Women’s Pov on a Rose for Emily

Down south women were scrutinized by society and men till the 1900’s. Gender roles were a big part of that time. Women were commonly expected to be wives, cooks and cleaners in households. Being anything less was likely to be viewed as different and a topic of conversation for others. In fact, women had got the right to vote in the 1920’s. That alone shows how late and institutionalized women were viewed at that time. In the short story A Rose for Emily by author William Faulkner although its not pinpointed on who the narrator is it’s clear that the people of the community of Jefferson speak individual and nitpick on Emily Grierson life. Without an exact gender narrator, the eye of the story is open to both male and female interpretations.

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The townspeople show a lot of scrutiny towards Emily and she was forced upon many gender roles. Faulkner mentions of oppressive sexism in the South and Miss Emily’s consistent dependence on men throughout her life; like her father, her man-servant, Colonial Santoris, and Homer Barron are evidence of a bigger problem. Miss Emily Grierson is a victim of a patriarchal oppression that has controlled her life since her birth; because of her upbringing with her father and the pressure from the townspeople. She feels pressured to obey to the typical gender norms of the period and struggle for a male presence to rely on. For a while, Miss Emily seems to personify the feminine ideal. She complies to her father, accepting his control and following to his demands; she, in her youth, demonstrates the quiet and submissive female role. Nonetheless, this begins to change once her father passes. Emily refuses to accept that he has died, and she won’t allow the authorities to come and get his body. Although in one point of view, we could still think this as a somewhat weird and gruesome sign of her continued loyalty to him, it also starts to show proof of a change in Emily’s role. Starting in the first sentence of the story the existence of gender roles in the story appear early on. Faulkner begins the stages of her life from Miss Emily’s Funeral, saying that the men are attending through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument while the women are only there mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house. In this case, Faulkner immediately starts the story off by distinguishing women as gossipers, prying, and curious. While the men, however, are viewed in a way that guards them of their wives’ insensitivity.

Miss Emily fought against all odds of gender roles in her own town. She ignored many naysayers and marched to her own beat after her father’s death. Though she was kept off and secretive she was strong and resilient towards the townspeople and even her future lover. The community were surprised to find that Miss Emily had began a relationship with Homer Barron, a man that was below her social caliaber and previous family wealth. Shocked that Miss Emily had abandoned her own social status in order to find a man, saying Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer and later going on to say that her kinsfolk should come to her to help to set her straight. In this case, the people of the town were holding Emily to the belief that a woman should be concerned about her reputation, and if she doesn’t that she has gone crazy. She steps quite far out of the submissive female role when she buys rat poison, lies to the cashier about her reason for buying it, and then uses it to kill her lover, Homer Barron. Homer Barron was African-American and a man’s man, loved by the men he meets–both blacks and whites–but who is controlled by Emily. Instead of her risking him leaving her, a move that she begins to seem is expected, she becomes manipulative and devious, working out a way to control him. She must kill Homer in order to keep him with her, and so she gives up all the leftovers of her past femininity and adopts a more masculine activity, poisoning him in order to keep their own isolation together.

More than just men and women were serious separations to one another in that time. Without a doubt, the most obvious value in Faulkner’s story is tradition. Miss Emily lives in the down south which is heavily into the traditions of gender roles, nobility, courtship behaviors, and race issues. Miss Emily lived under a lot of rules, that were set by the southern society, by her father, and by the community. None of the admirers who pursued Emily were considered good enough for her father, and so she remained unmarried and isolated for years. Society set rules for black/white relationships or relations, for male/female relations, and for socio-economic relations. Wealth separations were a big factor to social class and still is today. The wealthy were not to associate with the lower class, single women weren’t to spend time alone with men when not accompanied by a supervisor, and there were precise rules regarding the communion of black and white people. Reputation is a big part of their tradition, and Miss Emily held fast to the reputation of her family name. She was stuck in her tradition and couldn’t have changed totally to keep up with the modernizations of the community and town even if she had wanted to, the south was very much a big part of her still till her death. Marriage was a major part of the tradition in Jefferson for men and women who spent unchaperoned time together which is why Homer ended up the way he did at the end.

Segregation and Jim Crow laws were still in rule of the mostly white dominated south and Faulkner’s Jefferson, Mississippi was no exception to it. African Americans were usually treated as second class citizens–servants as well, but not as equals to the whites of Jefferson. It shows the surrounding clearly by the sayings Faulkner wrote. By telling us about Colonel Santoris mindset, and also Emily. We learn what kind of people they are. The colonel was mayor and therefore in a position of power, and he used that power to keep the African Americans beneath him. Colonel stating Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town. Colonel Santoris and Emily are town institutions. Since Colonel Santoris had been the mayor, he established the town and its moral codes. At that time, African Americans were free citizens, but no one was going to see them as equals, especially in the south. After her father dies, Emily becomes a hermit but keeps a African American man as a servant. We did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro. He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse. The women still continuing to gossip about her in the town after her death even going so low as to communicating with the servant for more details on her. Emily is still important to the town, but she is more of a myth or legend at this point of her death than a real person. It’s really ironic how her only human contact was a African American for many years but was still being judged for being mute. She never saw him as an equal either, but as an inferior instead.

A Rose for Emily clearly showed symbols and characters that reveal the sexism and harsh gender roles that was widespread throughout the south in the 1900s time period, especially towards women. The presence of the townspeople behaved as a public jury, relentlessly judging and gossiping curiously about Miss Emily for years about every social mishap she made. Beginning from her birth, it seems that she was born into a world that was not in favor for her. Her father seemed to be a dispiriting figure in the foreground of her life, closing her in and pushing her away from any suitors interested. From then on, it seems that she worked hard to secure another male figure in her life, not as a search for love, but instead for security from a man. The widespread desire of Miss Emily to be dependent on a male shows the continuous thought that a woman must have a male presence in her life to be fully secure, a common role for women to have back in the day. This view formed and controlled the path of Miss Emily’s life, eventually leading her to kill in order to feel comfort and security.

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Women's Pov On A Rose for Emily. (2019, Apr 12). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from
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