Professor Lisa Mahle-Grisez
Popularity to Isolation
In “A Rose for Emily,” William Faulkner explores how the South is reluctant to accept social and historical changes. The theme for the story is Southern Gothic with grotesque undertones. The time was post-Civil War. Slavery and race relations are a major part of what Faulkner addresses. Additionally, the story is narrated from the perspective of the townspeople. The piece begins with Emily’s funeral and works back chronologically.
Emily is a young woman who seems to be as bound to her father as she was to Southern traditions. She comes from an upper-class family. The use of titles like “Colonel” and “Miss Emily” are prevalent throughout the story. The town’s perception of Emily initially is one of envy. Her home is described as white with balconies. However, their opinion differs greatly as time goes on. “Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson” (Faulkner 1). Based on her stature in the community, she was buried with Union and Confederate soldiers who died at the battle of Jefferson. That led me deduce that her family were slaveholders, or were in some way tied to slavery, and experienced setbacks after the Civil War.
I noticed issues of racial inequality. Colonel Satoris had issued an edict stating that no colored women were to be seen in town without an apron. It’s interesting that Emily had a black manservant named Tobe, which cements my thought of her family’s involvement in slavery. Emily’s father was hell-bent on ensuring that she did not marry beneath their social class. He accomplished this by running away every possible prospect. He wanted to marry within “the Tribe” (Faulkner 1), which spoke to her only marrying someone similar to her in race and social class.
There was no way possible that Emily could elude the overwhelming pressures of Southern traditions. Her father imposed very strict values that were in alignment with Southern values at the time. “All the young men her father had driven away” (Faulkner 2). He saw no gentleman fit to marry his daughter. He placed Emily on a pedestal that no man could reach. Her father died, and Emily didn’t accept his death for three days. With no mention of other parental figures, her father was all she had. “She would have clung to that which had robbed her” (Faulkner 2). This quote speaks to the lack of human companionship Emily has experienced. All she knew personally was her father, who is gone. She did indeed cling to him, though he subtracted from her personality. Ironically, Emily had taken interest in a Northern laborer by the name of Homer Barron. The townspeople weren’t in agreement with her decision to pursue a Northern laborer with dark skin; they talked candidly about their disdain behind Emily’s back. The townspeople felt it was a bad example for children to see a black man with a white woman, a huge departure from Southern traditions. There were also speculations that Emily married Homer after she purchased silverware and