September 3, 2004
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Literature the Human Experience: Reading and
Writing. Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz. Bedford/St. Martins. Boston:
New York, 2002. 666-672
In A Rose for Emily, William Faulkners use of language foreshadows and builds up to the climax of the story. His choice of words is descriptive, tying resoundingly into the theme through which Miss Emily Grierson threads, herself emblematic of the effects of time and the nature of the old and new. Appropriately, the story begins with death, flashes back to the near distant past and leads on to the demise of a woman and the traditions of the past she personifies.
In the opening characterization, many descriptive words foreshadow the ultimate irony at the climatic ending: her skeleton was small and sparse, she looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water and that pallid hue (667). We learn that her voice was dry and cold and that she did not accept no for an answer (667). Her house, a fading photograph, smelled of dust and disuse-a closed, dank smell, and when her guests are seated a faint dust rises sluggishly about their thighs (667). All of these terms suggest neglect, decay, and entropy.
Miss Emily Grierson is the socialite of her town. Naturally with this status there is a certain reputation she has to withhold. She not only represents her family name but in a sense the people of her town. Because she is such a dominant figure the townspeople have to put her on a pedestal and are very judgmental of her actions to be admired but never touched. Many sutures she had but according to her father none were suitable enough. Emily was reverend as a goddess in the townspeoples eyes.
When her father passed it was a devastating loss for Emily. Never being able to have developed any real relationship with anyone else it was like her world completely crumbled around her. Emily tried to hold on to him in some way even though his spirit had left. The townspeople subtlety but open objected to this and eventually took his body away. Although this was a sad moment for Emily it was in a sense liberating. She cut off her hair as a sign of breaking away from her fathers control. For the first time in her life she felt free even though she was already thirty years old.
With this restraint being cut and this new found freedom Emily set out to fulfill her desires of finding love and living her own life. In Homer Barron a laborer from the north, Emily found love. This odd relationship shocked the townspeople and they were in turmoil over how to resolve this problem. Emilys distant cousins found a resolution. With these cousins now placed in town to watch over Emily they believed everything would change back to normal. As time passed the people began to recognize the genuine happiness Emily displayed and instead of rejecting the relationship they embraced it.
Although the townspeople did not directly come into contact with Emily their views on her and her family greatly affected her life. Their praises and admiration forced her father to keep her sheltered longer then she needed. When she finally was released she latched onto the first person who was not intimidated or judgmental of her. Being nave to the burdens of relationships and love Emily was not cautious and went head first into it. When she realized Homer would leave, again she made sure he would always be there by killing him. In this death Emily found eternal love which was something no one could ever take from her.
Its amazing how differently people see the world. People from different walks of life interpret everyday experiences in different ways. When one lives his/her life in the public eye it is often difficult to live up to everyones expectations. These repressions often lead these people to use radical methods to fulfill their own needs. Societys view on a so called celebrity can not only be powerful but also destructive.