Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Rose for Emily Symbolisms

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There are many symbolisms in William Faulkners A Rose for Emily. An unidentified narrator begins the story of Miss Emilys life with her funeral. Although the name and identity of the narrator is not mentioned, it is assumed that he or she is a part of the townsfolk. The story shifts through the past and present times of Emily Grierson’s life. She was from an earlier era and refused to let go of the past.

The narrator shifts the story back to Emily’s past. She held on to an era gone by when her family once held a high status over the townsfolk. In one instance, the City Authorities attempted to revoke her tax-exempt status. After they mailed numerous letters and personally visited Miss Emily, their attempt had failed. The reason for their failure was due to the high authority Miss Emily possessed over the townsfolk. Alive, Miss Emily has been a tradition, a duty, and a care; sort of heredity obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 184 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor-he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father into perpetuity. Emily’s authority over the townsfolk is made clearly evident when she entered the store and requested arsenic from the druggist. The man at the store ignored all laws to fulfill Emily’s odd request.

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Another example of Emily’s refusal to move on to a newer generation was her failure to notice the changes that took place around her house. As time passed on new buildings surrounded Emily’s house. Only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps. The house was described as striking during its younger years. 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 one of our most selective streets. However, as the years continued the house began to fall apart. It became an eyesore to the townsfolk. The deterioration of the Grierson house can be compared to the physical decline of Miss Emily. The young Emily was seen as slender, pretty, and well groomed. In her later years, she is described as a small fat woman wearing all black. The house and Emily began to decay as generations passed.

Her refusal to give up her father’s dead body showed her fear of the passage of time. There were different reminders of her past placed throughout the Grierson home including a portrait of her father who died a couple of years earlier. Another inference of Miss Emily’s refusal to move on is the description of the gold watch she wore around her neck. It hung on her by a thin chain that descended to her waist and disappeared into her belt. Although the gold watch is not seen, the ticking was audible. They could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain. This serves as a symbol of Emily’s failure to observe the passing of time. Generation after generation passed her by but she neglected to notice any changes.

The narrator provides all of these symbolisms through out the story, which lead to the discovery of Emily’s disturbing secret. For two years Emily kept the dead body of her former lover in the house with her. It is obvious Miss Emily slept in the same bed each night with the dead body. Then we noticed that the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair. This was the hair from Emily’s head. The opening of the room revealed a stagnant world of decay, which in many ways mirrored the decaying way of life Emily had experienced. The reason Emily held on to her former lover’s dead body was due to her refusal to move on.

The gold watch, picture of Emily’s father, and deterioration of the Grierson house were only some of the symbolisms used to describe Emily through out A Rose for Emily. The details of Miss Emily are collected in a series of incidents that paint a picture of the events surrounding her lover’s death. In the end the message was clear. Emily Grierson was a product of an earlier era. She refused to let go of past generations and could not move on to the future.

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