Rose For Emily “A Rose for Emily” By William Faulkner Reading this atypical piece of work entitled “A Rose for Emily”, written by William Faulkner encourages a sense of thrill and stimulation within. Since Mr. Faulkner resided in Mississippi most of his writings reflect his home state, as does “A Rose for Emily”. The first person minor point of view is being told by the townspeople. The main character, Miss Emily, in this short gothic story that took place during the early 1900 hundreds demonstrated a conflict she was having with herself.
I think that it is well known that our parents are the backbone to each persons existence. Knowing this, William Faulkner managed to include through the events in the plot an underlining message mixed with a little flowered mockery. Although, Ms. Emily committed murder, she was a victim of her learned environment because of her father and the citizens of Jefferson. This story revolved around one town and one main character.
The beginning of this womans well to do life in a poor southern state consisted only of herself and her domineering father living in the same house until the calling of God summoned her elsewhere. Miss Emily managed to make it to age thirty still being single with only the help of her father and “she would.. continue to cling to that which had robbed her”(472). The towns people assumed that “none of the young men were quite good enough for Ms. Emily and such”(471). When the only person in Emilys life passed on, she stood in denial and refused condolences an aid to bury her father from the town ladies.
The damage that her father had bestowed upon her by sheltering her from the rest of the world was starting to emerge at the time of his death. By over-protecting Emily and “clutching a horsewhip”(471) to control her life, caused her to become hermit-like in the town she grew up in and knew very well. This creator of Emily must have lead her life for her in every way, fore when he exited the earth, he managed to take a big part of her with him. I believe this caused a confused state in which Emily really didnt know herself, causing her to be so afraid of being alone that townspeople were “trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body.. for three days”(471). Emily came upon and involved herself with a second male figure that turned out to be her lover.
In the end Emily poisons her lover to keep him from leaving her. The fulfilling plot is retold by the townspeople as if they were all reflecting upon her life and the things they remembered. By the author reflecting back, using the whole town, it gave the story a sense of upcoming purpose. The climax continued to climb starting “when the smell developed”(470) to Emily purchasing the arsenic and finally the very end when the realization was put forth by “a long strand of iron-gray hair”(475) implying that she really killed Homer. The authors tone carried sympathy for Emily as stated by the townspeople, when they said “poor Emily”(472) several times. The characterization of Emily was also provided by the description of her house that had once been white, decorated with a nice roof, steeple, and”scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies”(469), compared to the current portrait given of “an eye sore among eyesores”(469).
The townspeople who “had begun to feel really sorry for her”(471), along with her father, all provided an external unhealthy motivation that is responsible for her unthinkable actions of murdering Homer. A mixture of simple to read sentences along with minor dialog made the story easy to understand. I felt the style of writing provided a spirited suspense by not letting on that Homer was dead until the closing paragraphs. For me, stories like that keep me reading until the very end. A story like this, that took place in the south during the early 1900 hundreds basically got away with murder.
If the setting for this story would have been present day 2000, it would have upset and infuriated some readers for the fact that a crime was committed and no one were prosecuted. The town officials would have carried more of the blame for not finding out the real cause of that smell. The black servant would have also been charged for not reporting the murder. Basically, any other time and place would have caused the story to lose its effectiveness. Looking past all the literary elements except the theme, which contained the most meaning relating back to Emilys surroundings. The death of her father constructed a mental milestone in her life in which she would continue to build upon in an unhealthy manner.
She carried the haunting presence of father with her, and had always maintained a love/hate attitude regarding her father and the sheltering life style he provided for her. The citizens of Jefferson contributed to Emilys demise by befriending her in times of need, and whispering about her instead of helping her. If Emily really meant that much for the whole town to attend her passing then they should have been there to support and comfort her and not “out of curiosity to see the inside of her house”(469). If the men really had respect for her while she was still living then they would have welcomed her to social gatherings. None of this occurred; in thus, making Emily the towns laughing monument during her breathing years.
Emily deeply needed to “become humanized”(471) and love someone and to be loved since the passing of her father “left her all alone and a pauper”(471). Emily must have known that the end of her relationship with Homer was drawing near, other wise she would not have already had the arsenic on hand. Following her unthinkable actions to finally take control of a situation, she invited the towns children to her newly created studio within her home and taught them china painting. This was Emilys last attempt to be giving to the community and in turn calm her loneness. Then “the pupils had grown up…
and did not sent their children to her… for china painting lessons so her door closed and remained closed”(474). Citing this example is another way the town had turned their back on her. Over the years the word had got out that Emily was a crazy person and I am sure that is why there were no further students sent to her. The entire concept of a rose is interesting with possibly two meanings.
Roses are beautiful with a meaning of love and respect along with hope and courage. Even though roses have such meaning, they also have thorns. Roses and their thorns symbolize her life as a whole. The petals being her fathers love that protected her, the thorns being “all the young men her father had driven away”(472) and comparing it to the affection she had for Homer that he did not carry for her. It makes sense that Emily lived her life like a rose.
Another symbolic item about the title is that it only states “A Rose”, meaning one. One rose symbolizes simplicity and the fact that all she really wanted was a normal and simple life with out loneness. This single rose happens to be Homer and Emily dries him out and keeps him. The purpose of the story is that life is unpredictable and we are all products of our environment. Some of us choose not to let an unfortunate way of life rule us, Miss Emily on the other hand did not have self-esteem, self-worth and confidence to persuade her otherwise. She had been ruled by her father, deemed a crazy woman by the town and lost many men that had come calling her.
The one man that she held somewhat of a relationship with was going to leave her and her only solution in order to hold onto him was to do the unthinkable and murder him to keep him from leaving like all the rest. In this day an age, Emily would have been diagnosed with mental disorder, which would have required her to contend with her separation anxiety behavior that stemmed from the nucleus of her family, primarily her father. In the beginning Emily was being controlled and in the end Emily learned to control. Sociology teaches that everything is a learned behavior, including the environment in which we are harvested from. I would also like to imply that it is impossible to kill without creating conditions for your own murder.
Miss Emily may have thought that by administering the rat poison to Homer she would finally get and keep what she always wanted regardless of a beating heart. But in the end she was still alone from being victimized by her environment and that added to her decline.