BJTUHBXY’s Course Thesis
History and Anthology of America Literature
Schooling No 08140006
Tutor Prof Zhang Junxue
July 12, 2010
A study on the Theme of William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
A Rose for Emily is one of William Faukner’s most frequently anthologized short
stories and is widely used in American class room. It is true that the setting of the story is the American South. After World War One, there were many changes occuring in the world. Man’s inherent need to follow tradition was now being
challanged by a continually changing modern world. The past and the present often conflicted. The conflict between the past and the present is symbolized in the beginning of the story by the description. Yet, the theme of the story is universal, transcending the boundaries of time and space. This short stories tells about love, death, honor, pride, change, and loss. Faukner uses effects of the stream of consciousness, multiple points of views, symbolism and imagery to present to the people a quite broad south picture, attract the people to realize from experience the profound subject implication, contrast the declining south atmosphere, express the profound social maening. The short story ―A Rose For Emily‖ draws a vivid picture of the southern town Jefferson of the United States. There are several different symbolic subjects in it, such as the house, Miss Emily, Barron Homer and so on. In this thesis, the author tries to discuss them one by one from his point of view. Keywords: Miss Emily
thWilliam Faulkner was among the greatest experimenttalists of the 20 century
novel. He was one of the greatest modern writers along with James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. ―A Rose for Emily‖ is one of them. Faulkner successfully advanced two modern literary techniques: stream of consciousness and multiple point of view. His frequent themes were history and race---family epic, melon-drama (with exaggerated conflicts and emotion), tragedy and comedy. All of these involve war, race, class, soil, and family violence. He defines his ideals in terms of their opposites. He has few characters that have normal sense, and Miss Emily, the main character of the short story, is a typical one who resembles almost all the aspects of
William Faulkner’s writing style mentioned above.
2 Four important symbolisms in the story
A Emily—Sybolizing the old tradition of south American.
Faulkner applies symbolism throughout the story and makes this simple story pregnant with meaning. This short story contains a high rate of symbolism , which is throughout distributed and revealed throughout the entire story. Symbolism is very prominent throughout the story, and plays one of the biggest roles in the underlying meaning of the story.
―When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument‖. In the first
paragraph, she is described as a fallen monument – she represents a way of life that
no longer exists. She represents that old south, and that is part of the reason the townpeople view her that way they do. She is a relic who survives by remaining locked up in her house untouched by outside influence. She is a tradition, a duty, and a care for the town.
The story basically adresses the changes in the South after Civil Wsr. For one point, Miss Emily representws the old South tradition. Her southern heritage and ponts of view are represented through her actions. Her stubbornness and unrelenting attitude are very strong characteristic of the Southern heritage. She refused to believe that the times were changing. Miss Emily is considered a monument of Southern manners and an ideal of past values. The Old South generations were deteriorating very rapidly by changing traditions, and as well as mannerisms. When Miss Emily died, she and her house both become symbols of their dying generation.
In the end , the narrator, a townsperson himself, reveals Miss Emily’s real
purpose. She was a reminder that both generations were guilty of the same misplaced valued. Not only did they let Miss Emily, the mouurders, come into being, but also that they covered up her crime and enshrined her in a tableau into which they can inset themselves. There is an interbreeding of ideas between the two groups that allow them to have such bad ideas in maintaining the ideas of what they would like to be. Miss Emily is a fallen monument not only to her family but to the ends of the two generations. The narrator realizes it was the town’s fault for Miss
Emily’s actions, ecause they drove her into isolation madness by treating her bad.
B Rose—Symbolizing the love and people’s respect for Emily
The title A Rose for Emily is somewhat ambiguous. A rose is a popular flower
symbolizing love, caring, friendship, courship, peace, respect, etc… One gives a
rose to a loved one, especially male to female. This suggests that the town loves her, but also leaves a rose on the grave of someone a masculine entity to her feminine identity. One also leaves a rose on the grave of someone who is dead. If the town is leaving a rose for her, they are already recognizing she has dead, which symbolically, she is, long before she dies. It could also be a tradition: a rose for Miss Emily. It also indicates the distance with which she is regarded: this is not Emily, this is Miss Emily. Finally, it refers to the love from Homer that went bad. The townspeople admire Emily and respect her as a former aristocrat of society. She is an educator and deserves their care because of all she was forced to endure by her tyrant father. They once had seen her as a monument. A Rose for Emily is a
dedication to Emily from the townspeople, like an ode is to a great writer.
The ―Rose‖ clearly defines something “sacred‖ to Emily. At the end of the
story after Emily’s death some curious women went into the top room. In the
The violence of breaking down the door seemed to fill this room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valence, curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose—shaded lights, upon the dressing table,upon the delicated
array of crystal and the man’s toilet things backed with tamished silver, silver so
tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had juet been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; benaeth it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.
The ―Rose‖ is a symbol of the age of romance in which the aristocracy was obsessed with delusions of grandecur, pure women being a symbol of ideal in every phase of life. In other words, the story is in a way, a ―Rose‖ to Miss Emily for the
things that she believed in and died believing in Miss Emily is a lonely old woman, living a life devoid of all love and affection.
C The House—Symbolizing the deteroration of her family and the Old South
Miss Emily is compared to her house in many different ways: descriptions of the decaying house symbolize Miss Emily’s physical and emotional decay, and as
well as her mental problems. representation between herself and her house is shown through constant neglect and unappreciation. In one point that Faulkner makes, the house is described to be stubborn and unrelenting. When Miss Emily died her house become sybols of their dying generation. The society was changing every minute
but still, Emily’s house was still remained like a symbol of seventieth century. In this short story, Faukner applies symbolism to compare the Grierson house with Emily’s physical deteration, her shift in social standing, and her unwillingness to accept change. When compared chronologically, the Grierson house is employed to symbolize Miss Emily’s physical attributes. Just as their physical characteristics, Faukner sets the Grierson house as a symbol for Miss Emily’schange in social status.
It is obviously showed that according to the story.
The house and Emily show further examples of their disregard for progress. The house is described to be stubborn and unrelenting, as Miss Emily is also portrayed on many occasions. When she got free postal delivery, she refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to the house. She refused to be associated with anything modernistic, which reflected her stubbornness. Even when she was left "alone, a pauper," and "humanized," she absolutely refused to be viewed with pity. In fact she "demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson". Likewise, just as Emily held herself "a little too high" for what she was, the house is presented as "Lifting its stubborn and Coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gasoline pumps". Just like the house, Emily considered herself superior to the rest of the town.
D People in the Town—Symbol the Obstacles of the socirty
People in this town and the community are the real subject. In other words, this story is not just about Emily, but also about people talking about Emily. Indeed Emily appears as a dead person from the beginning and is only brought to lifein gossip. It is because that this community narrative technique limits readers from knowing the truth. The readers hardly know many facts about Miss Emily from the townspeople’s narration‖. In this situation, all the people in her own can do is observe and guess, so what they explore to the readers are just what they ―feel‖,
“thingk‖ or ―see‖. Therefore, it naturally formed the differently opposite group between Emily and the people in the town.
People in this town liked to gossip a lot about Miss Emily. When she went to buy the poison from the pharmcy, the town was convinced she was going to kill herself and that she was crazy. It seemed that she should have to choose to die. When her father had died people called and dropped by the house to give Miss Emily their condolences. For three years she told them that he was not dead and he was crazy. One of the things they talked a lot about was Miss Emily’s servant that
worked for her. They made racial comments about him for example when Miss Emily’s house giving off some sort odor. People started complaining to a judge
named Judge Stevens about the smell. All he could sayservants about the smell. All he could say was ―It’s probably a snake or a rat that Niger of hers killed in the yard‖.
One lady who complained accused Miss Emily of smeling bad. Miss Emily was pitied throughout the town because she wasn’t married. The reason for this was
because every time a man wanted to have something to do with Emily her father would scare theme away. When Emily started seeing Homer Baron, people started to gossip that she would marry him and she she would persuade him yet people would saw. The townpeople also have the in making Emily crizier. They looked at her like a fallen monument. All the fact that the town’s people thought was not
really true. What Emily acted is not followed their wishes. Just because of this, we can explore obviously that Emily’s odd behavior is enforced by the outside world
in most extent. That is to say people in the town just like the obstacles of the society.
The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate Faulkner’s outstanding writing
techniques so as to we can know much more about the famous modernist writers and his works. We can easily draw the conclusion that the application of symbolism, Gothic style description and the unique narrative perspetive reveals the conflict between different values and the contrast between tne old and new society order at the same time. For a while Miss Emily was able to maintain her past in this rose-colored bridal room, in her rose-tinted world. Miss Emily could not fight time forever, because through death, her past was invaded by the present, at last ,after the burial of Miss Emily, the death of the little room was broken down and the past was finally allowed to escape its tomb. The present had tried to defeat her but only through death, did this become possible. On the victor, Faulkner bestows a rose of tribute, a rose for Miss Emily.