A Rose for Emily
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, is a short story about the life and death of an eccentric loner, Emily Grierson. Faulkner narrates the story in a unique voice, shocking readers towards the end, giving them a taste of the unexpected. Emily lives a strange and isolated life as a loner, in a small town called Jefferson. The story is narrated from the point of view of a person, representing the town of Jefferson. The story occurs in the times when women were considered unequal to men and incapable of taking any decision for themselves. “They just said, “Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should come to her.”” By calling her “Poor”, again and again, it shows how they consider a woman, without the support of a man, incapable to lead a normal life. Emily’s character has been depicted as one who is too dependant on her father, without whom she becomes tough and lifeless. After the death of her father, Emily isolates herself completely from the outer world. The story revolves around the life of Emily, who is overly protected by her father, after whose death, she ends up lone and deserted. The story points out the fact that children can be hurt by overprotective parents.
Emily Grierson is a woman who is born in a rich and royal family. This can be derived from the descriptions in the story about the house she lives in. “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street.” It shows that the Grierson family has been a rich and dignified family, owning a house that only a few select ones in the town can afford. Jefferson seems like an old fashioned town, with narrow minded people, who consider Emily as their responsibility. “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town…” it shows how they think of Emily as an obligation upon themselves because she doesn’t have any man to support her. Another instance that shows the conventional perspective is when the description of Colonel Sartoris is told. “Colonel Sartoris, the mayor–he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron” It shows the racial discrimination thriving in the town of Jefferson. The town considers Emily, as their obligation and as a duty and the mayor Sartoris remits the taxes saying that her father has loaned money to the town. Emily is an obedient daughter who has a lot of faith in her father. “Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.” It shows a strong sense of belief she has on her father and while he lives, she abides by his rules. The people of Jefferson town seem sympathetic towards Emily at times, while also being sarcastic. Even though they consider her as their duty and responsibility, they are also tough on her sometimes. When she is with Homer Barron, they don’t like the relationship between Emily and him. “without calling it noblesse oblige. They just said, “Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should come to her.”” They even write to her relatives in Alabama, so that they should take care of Emily. They always treat her as a silly girl, incapable of living normally.
Emily’s appearance changes with time and the different colors of her looks are described accordingly in the story. When she is young, she looks slender and white, but as she grows old, the description for her changes with changing times. “Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her.” She is described as small, obese with pallid eyes that resembles to coal. Earlier her hairs were short and she has been described to resemble an angel but as she grows old, she turns fat and her hairs are described as gray. “During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning.” The reason for such a drastic change in Emily’s personality seems to have emerged out of the frustration and loneliness she has to go through. She lives in her own world, without interacting with anyone. Emily’s father has been very over protective and she never has a normal relationship with any man. Emily becomes so forlorn after the death of her father that she starts becoming harsh and heartless. The rudeness is clearly depicted from her words. When she goes to the store to buy some poison, she doesn’t show a sign of fret or scare on her face. “”Arsenic,” Miss Emily said. “Is that a good one?”” This shows how ruthless she has become. She poisons the only love remaining in her life, Homer Barron, while everyone thinks he left her. She isn’t disturbed by the stinking smell of his rotting body. She sleeps next to his dead corpse for so many years, until her own death. This shows how hollow Emily has become in time. The only reasoning for this harshness could be the insecurity that has developed within her. She is afraid to be lonely and she kills the only person she loves, so that he should never leave her.
Even as she feels lonely, she thinks too highly of herself and she doesn’t want to accept the truth. She treats everyone who comes to her house with rudeness. “The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister–Miss Emily’s people were Episcopal– to call upon her. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again.” Emily must have said something bad to the minister, who refuses to back to her house ever after. When the men visit her for repayment of taxes, she bluntly discards them by saying, “”See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson.”” Even as the bad smell stinks from Emily’s house, she rests by the window comfortably without being troubled. “As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol.” She sits in upright position; this describes the way she considers herself as a royal person, even when she is sitting in the dark. “She carried her head high enough–even when we believed that she was fallen.” Everybody in the town of Jefferson considers her totally finished, whereas, she still believes in herself and her dignity. “It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness.” This shows a peculiar quality of the Griersons; even when Emily is one of the last of her family, she considers herself dignified enough for others to treat her with respect. She doesn’t easily accept the death of her father. “The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead.” She doesn’t seem to accept the fact that her father is actually dead.
Emily’s life could have been better if she had been given some dependence by her father. The whole story makes us realize the fact that over protectiveness can be unhealthy for children. When Emily was beautiful, her father didn’t let anyone come close to her. As a result, she ends up without having any relationship. But after the death of her father, she doesn’t have anyone to hinder her freedom but she becomes so caught up by her father’s rules that she herself doesn’t want to come out of it. She becomes lonely and when she meets Homer Barron, her loneliness is gone. But she is so obsessed with the fear of being alone again that she herself kills him; so that he should never leave her. She stays with him for many years and never steps out of the house. She becomes eccentric and rude and she doesn’t like talking to anybody else. She doesn’t even talk to her servant. “He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.” Emily Grierson ends up eccentric, and murders the only person she loves, because of the fear of being alone. If she were given a rightful choice to have a life partner, her life could have been different. Emily could have led a normal life. This story helps us conclude the fact that over protectiveness of parents can be harmful for children.
“A Rose for Emily” 1 March 2009