Thursday, July 12, 2012

A rose for emily

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The World is Forever Changing

Human nature resists change because we are creatures of habits and routines. William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” shows the damage that can be done if a person is unwilling to change, and unable to let go of past ideals.

Emily Grierson is a Southern belle clinging to her old south mentality. She was raised in the south firmly entrenched in the hierarchy of the old wealthy families complete with southern white supremacy ideals. Miss Emily’s father instilled in her a belief just as the old southern ways believed that she was above society, and did not have to obey the law of the land or the impending change. “Thus she passed from generation to generation--dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.” Miss Emily kept her old black servant, and her big southern house, the only one left in the town. People saw her less and less, and her inability to change kept her secluded from society. Miss Emily didn’t live in the same world that the rest of the town’s people lived in. As they evolved she stayed in the past finally leading to her becoming delusional.

She needs to have everything fit into her view of the world. This singular need, to continue with her old South beliefs, overrides everything else. Falling in love doesn’t even overcome her need to protect her southern ways. When Emily meets Homer Barron at first it seems that she might overcome the fact that he was northern, and a construction foreman. When some of the town’s people begin to talk behind her back, Emily must protect her reputation, which above all else is of importance to a southerner. Emily must find a solution that enables her to save herself and keep Homer. She preserves her public face by pretending to prepare for marriage. She keeps Homer without having to embarrass herself by marrying someone inappropriate by killing him, and keeping his body in her house. Emily manages to hold on to her past, and have Homer forever. Emily’s descent into her delusional state didn’t begin with Homer. When her father died, she denied that he was dead for three days by keeping the body in her house. She couldn’t accept his death. She even cut her hair at one point to try to revert back into a child. “When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl.” She became more crazy as the time went on, and as more changes occurred.

As she clung to the past, her future could never develop. She could not move on, and evolve with the rest of the town’s people and the new South. As new generations became the town’s “backbone and the spirit of the town”, Miss Emily shut herself completely off and never came out of her house. Shutting herself off was the only way for her to resist the changing world. Miss Emilys physical, emotional and mental degeneration was a result of her lack of change. Her decay was even evident physically. She grew fatter, her hair turned gray, and grew very long. Emily was stuck in time, and as a result she began to deteriorate. If you live in the past you cannot evolve as a person.

As the times began to change, the town moved on toward the future. Factories replaced the houses around Miss Emily’s house. This shows the gradual change of the past into the present. The past was replaced with present industrialization. There was also an attitude of the people toward the influences of the people in the community that were seen as powerful. The working class began to see and believe in its own self worth. The past influences of the old south and the powerful august names no longer mattered. Miss Emily’s house was in the middle of factories, and was seen as “an eye sore among eyesores”. It was the last home representing the old south, and all that Emily had left. Miss Emily and her house stood as the last obstruction to the modernization that was taking place in Jefferson. It symbolizes the clinging to the old ways, and everything that Miss Emily believes. She manages to die with dignity in her own home with her old negro servant taking her memories, and her southern reputation with her. She died locked in her home, and locked in her traditions.

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