A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner a short story about the life of South America at the beginning of the 20th century, which illustrates an attitude to women during the period described. The author gives interesting outlook of the social structure of the society of the time described. In this short story Faulkner manages to express the spirit of changes, which influence the lives of his characters.
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Society, described in this short story, differs from the one we face today. Deprived of basic rights and freedoms, women of those times were physically and emotionally subdued to men. The study of gender relations and importance of social influence of these relations became the main idea of Faulkner’s writing. Gender relation is one of the main themes of a short story A Rose for Emily written by Faulkner. The story is written in a form of third-person narration and, what is notable, there is no one definite narrator. Third person narration and multiple people, who tell the story, is a special device used by the author. It helps him to pass the point of view of town folks to his readers. The readers get not only an opinion of one separate person, but a combined idea of what people think of the town described.
The narrator, speaking in the first person plural that represents the entire town, recalls that, when Miss Emily Grierson died, all the townspeople of Jefferson, Mississippi, attended the funeral held in her house, the interior of which no one save an old black servant had seen in ten years. This house had once been grand, located in a respected neighborhood, but both neighborhood and house have since fallen into decay. In death, Miss Emily has gone to join all the respected dead who used to inhabit this once-respected neighborhood, in the cemetery ranked with the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who perished in the battle of Jefferson during the Civil War.
The townspeople attend the funeral both out of respect for Miss Emily as a monument to their aristocratic heritage, and out of a kind of curiosity, even nosiness. The sense of the town as interested in, invested in”and always watching”Miss Emily is suggested by the odd third person plural narrative representing the entire town. The house is, like its owner, a monument on the outside and a curiosity on the inside, a building that resists modernization even as it decays. The mention of the cemetery, another monument to the past, reminds us that”as is often the case in Faulkner’s works”to understand the present, we must also understand the past.
When alive, Miss Emily had been respected and cared for by the townspeople. In fact, in 1894, the then-mayor of Jefferson, Colonel Sartoris”who made it illegal for black women to go into the town streets without an apron on”excused her from paying taxes, dating from the time her fatherdied on into perpetuity. Miss Emily would not have accepted this excusal were she to think of it as charity, so Sartoris invented a story about how Emily’s father had once loaned money to the town, claiming the excusal of Miss Emily from paying taxes was the town’s preferred method of repaying the loan.
Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town
The first narrative leap back in time. Colonel Sartoris is a gallant Southern gentleman (and former Confederate Army colonel) who chivalrously, if condescendingly, excuses Miss Emily from paying her taxes as though she were a damsel in distress. He knows that Miss Emily is a proud woman of genteel upbringing, though, and that in her pride she would refuse charity, hence the story he invents. The narrator chauvinistically suggests that Emily believes the story because she, like all women, is na??ve.However, the next generation of town leaders came to find the tax arrangement with Miss Emily dissatisfactory; so one January they mailed her a notice of taxes due. By February, however, there was no reply. Miss Emily was subsequently sent a formal letter inviting her to the sheriff’s office, then a letter from the mayor himself. The mayor received a reply note from her explaining that she no longer went out at all; enclosed without comment was the tax notice.
A narrative leap forward in time. The chivalric traditions of the Old South become diluted as time passes; so it is that the newer generation of town authorities attempt to exact taxes from Miss Emily”these leaders are not gallant, but they arepragmatic and democratic.In response, the authorities of Jefferson dispatched members of the Board of Alderman to Miss Emily’s house. Tobe showed the men into the dusty interior; a crayon portrait of Miss Emily’s father stood by the fireplace. Once Miss Emily entered”a bloated-looking woman leaning on a cane”the deputation’s spokesman informed her that her taxes were due; but Miss Emily countered that Colonel Sartoris excused her from paying taxes long ago, and that the town’s authorities should speak to him. Miss Emily then instructed Tobe to show the dissatisfied gentlemen out.
So Miss Emily vanquished the town authorities in the matter of her taxes, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before”two years after her father’s death, and shortly after her sweetheart had deserted her”in the matter of a bad smell issuing from her house. Miss Emily had become reclusive.
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