“Rose of Emily” by William Faulkner Introduction William Faulkner’s book, Rose of Emily, discusses the death of the protagonist Emily Grierson through the introduction of her death at the beginning of the plot. However, the villagers do not recognize Emily because she had not been socializing with people around her. The father did not want her to interact with people during her childhood years and after his death, Emily developed a mental illness. The narrator indicates that Emily was unmarried because her father claimed she belonged to a higher social status, which the men in the village could not match. Although the story chronicles the behaviors of Emily and the townspeople’s perception of the happenings in her life, the narrator exposes various elements such as plot organization, symbols, and thematic representations.
The story is divided into 5 parts that reveal separate events in the life of Emily, the townspeople and her family. For instance, the first part illustrates the causes of Emily’s death with an emphasis on their tradition concerning marriage. At her age, Emily was supposed to be a wife, but her father turned down the potential suitors, citing disparity in social status. The protagonist ends up living up to age 74 without a husband or children, which prompted the townspeople to exempt her from submitting taxes (Faulkner 16). The second part sees the narrator elaborating on the pity that befell Emily after the death of her father. This happens when she denies that her father had died and keeps the corpse in her home. The third part is about how Emily had been secluded from interacting with other townspeople with the narrator feeling pity for her (Volpe 291). This is the part where the narrator introduces the meeting between Emily and Homer Barron (Faulkner 19). Although Barron does not depict the traits of courting Emily, the narrator describes him as an unfit man for Emily. This scene exhibits the climax with the union between Emily and Homer, though the townspeople do not approve it to be real. The fourth and fifth parts are about the future of Emily after she buys arsenic from the pharmacy (Volpe 291).
The other aspect of the book is the use of symbols and images such as Emily’s house, which was her confinement area and represented her class identity. The narrator uses the symbols to show the perception of the townspeople and the observance of tradition in the Sothern region. The house is symbolic because it meant that Emily only possessed it after her father’s death and had no marital respect. The narrator also mentions the house in regards to Emily’s only place where she could stay all day in order to avoid socializing with the townspeople (Faulkner 24). It is also significant as the death of the father makes Emily hide the corpse, denying that nothing was wrong.
The prevalent theme is marriage and tradition. For instance, the townspeople feel pity for Emily because she is unmarried and cannot pay her taxes. This tradition changes when the new generation of townspeople demand her to pay despite her situation (Volpe 291). Tradition and marriage themes are also evident when Emily spends more time with Barron, who is not in her class (Faulkner 29). This indicates that tradition was highly regarded in those years and people did not disregard its significance.
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Logan, Iowa: Perfection Learning Corp, 1990.
Volpe, Edmond L. A Readers Guide to William Faulkner: The Short Stories. Syracuse, NY:
Syracuse University Press, 2004. Print.