A Rose for Emily: Shared Values Essay
Most people have a strong belief in a love that lasts forever. We want to believe that we’ll fall in love with the person that somehow completes us and that we will then spend the rest of our lives with that person. This seems to be the general consensus among the people of Faulkner’s town in “A Rose for Emily”, as is indicated by the general sentiment of the townspeople when Miss Emily is first seen about town in the company of Homer Barron. “At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, ‘Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer’” (438). While everyone seemed to feel that it was right that Miss Emily should have a beau, opinion was divided upon whether it was all right for her to marry Homer Barron. Some were seen to hope for it while others felt it was a disgrace for the two of them to be seen about the town without any kind of formal arrangement having been announced (440). Emily herself seems to have been under the impression that an arrangement was understood, as is evidenced by her poisoning and retaining the body of Homer Barron.
While nothing this extreme has ever occurred within my own extended family, there is a difference of shared values among my relations that approximates this. While everyone in my family seems to feel that it’s important for a couple to support each other, they generally have a poor opinion of one couple that supports each other by the husband staying home with the young children and the wife pursuing a career. Those of us who have been raised on the values of our elders don’t seem to have a problem with the situation as we see the couple supporting each other in the way that works for them, but the elders are not able to see beyond the idea that since the wife is required to work to support her family, the husband must not be adequately supporting her.
A Rose for Emily
I had heard about this short story before and had been told it was really creepy. But I also thought that William Faulkner was a boring kind of writer, too. One of those kinds of writers that forces you to think about what it is that you’re reading if you want the story to make sense. So I went into this reading thinking I was going to be either really bored or really confused by it. Either it was going to be so far over my head that I wasn’t going to ‘get it’ or it was going to be something I’d just groan about and feel I’d wasted my time.
As I read the story, I began feeling very much vindicated in my early assumptions. I was presented with a somewhat uninteresting story about a town that had an eccentric old lady that nobody felt confident about confronting. Who cares? Then the author began to catch my attention when he tells us “We did not say she was crazy then” (437) right after he tells us about how she was in deep denial about her father’s death and wouldn’t relinquish his body. If that wasn’t crazy, what was? Although he continued to lapse back into that humdrum little tale about the strange old lady in town, he also continued to throw little hints that things were more than a little strange. Things like the smell and the arsenic are presented in reverse order so that they nag at your interest instead of jump right out as a sequence of murder.
By the end of the book, when the townspeople find Homer boarded up in her upstairs room, in something that looks like the bridal chamber, I was hooked. I was completely interested in what was left to say and completely surprised by the gray hair. Instead of being forced to think, I was compelled to think. It was something I didn’t have to put effort into but was instead something that I couldn’t help doing. The story presented so many clues and so many things to consider in putting the events together that it was like a game to discover all the little details Faulkner included. By the end of the reading, I realized that my assumptions were somewhat correct in that I would be forced to think about the story, and also somewhat correct in assuming that the reading would be boring, at least at first. At the same time, though, they were so far off the mark. I was forced to think, but it wasn’t an unpleasant activity and something I found myself doing in my spare moments, and the boring details of the story took on new life and meaning once I had read the end, giving me a lot of material to ponder in those spare moments.