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A Rose for Emily

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“When we truly realize that we are all alone is when we need others the most” – Ronald Anthony. Emily Grierson, referred to as Miss Emily throughout the story, is the main character of 'A Rose for Emily,' written by William Faulkner. Emily is born to a proud, aristocratic family sometime during the Civil War; Miss Emily used to live with her father and servants, in a big decorated house. The Grierson Family considers themselves superior than other people of the town. According to Miss Emily's father none of the young boys were suitable for Miss Emily. Due to this attitude of Miss Emily's father, Miss Emily was not able to develop any real relationship with anyone else, but it was as if her world revolved around her father. The death of Emily’s father and her lover Homer, along with the quickly passing time turned her into the lonely person she was up until her death.

When her father passed away, it was a devastating loss for Miss Emily. In the story, the lines Faulkner wrote “she told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body” conveys the message that she tried to hold on to him, even after his death (3). Even though, this was a sad moment for Emily, she was liberated from the control of her father. On the other hand, instead of going on with her life, it halted after her father’s death. Miss Emily found love in a guy named Homer Barron, who came as a contractor for paving the sidewalks in town. Miss Emily was seen in buggy on Sunday afternoons with Homer Barron. The whole town thought they would get married. One could know this by the lines in the story “She will marry him, She will persuade him yet” (5). She tried to replace the empty spot her father had in her heart, but it soon turned into the same idea her father had with her: keeping him all to her self forever.


On the contrary side, Homer Barron, although ironically Emily's only love was the exact opposite of Emily. The sentence in the story “Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be centre of the group” suggests that Homer Barron is a fun loving person while Emily comes out of the house very few times, and is never seen having fun at all (4). When Emily proposed to Homer Barron for marriage, Homer refuses to marry Emily, as he did not want to be overtaken by time and become dull as Emily would have wished. Thus, Emily kills Homer Barron with poison and keeps him forever with her. The townspeople had no idea of her intensions, so after they saw her buying custom toilet seats and clothes for Homer, they said to each other “‘They are married.’ We were really glad” (5). They really thought she was in love and had found her missing half.

Another thing that had drastically shaped Emily’s life was the time quickly passing by. Emily’s life has been completely overtaken by it and she has halted the passage of time. The passing of time creates a tension in her life. At first she cannot accept the death of her father. After that she creates tension in the community by refusing to pay the taxes. When the aldermen go to her house to collect the taxes, she refuses to pay and tells “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me” (2). The halted passage of time causes her not to even recognize Colonel’s death. Emily also ends up killing her only love Homer Barron due to her stubbornness. Also, she preserves Homer Barron’s dead body for 30 years in her house. “What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt” describes how long Emily had kept the body (7). She wanted to control time and halt it for her own comfort. Also, Emily’s father kept her sheltered longer than she was needed. When she was released, she was under the burdens of relationships and love.

In the end, Emily’s life was shaped by her father’s strict rules and forceful isolation of Homer Burden along with the failed attempt to control time. One might pity Emily after learning about her loneliness, but her stubbornness was a factor of her pathetic life as well. She was too afraid to step out of her comfort zone to enhance her life, so she basically gave up even after her father’s death should have liberated her. Unfortunately, at the end of her life, Emily had been just as miserable as she had been while her father was alive. Shaping her life were the factors that her father had died and left her alone and helpless which manipulated her into trapping her first love along with her. By doing so, Emily was attempting to control the passing of time, another factor, for her own comfort.




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