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Deanna Garcia

Professor Hauss

English 305

March 3, 2016

A Rose for Emily

In William Faulkners A Rose for Emily, the narrator give a third person omniscient

account of the life and death of Emily Grierson, a prestigious southern woman. Throughout the

narration the reader learns that Ms. Grierson life is both humanized and heavily scrutinized by

the fellow townspeople, who have conflicting emotions of compassion and distastes for the life a

fallen monument. As Faulkner details the life and death of Ms. Grierson, the reader navigates

themes of isolation, tradition versus change, and compassion.

Ms. Grierson was the only daughter in a once prestigious and noble family known

throughout the town. When she was young girl, Emilys father was an overbearing and

overprotecting parent who had driven away all the young men wanting to be close to his

daughter. By thirty Grierson was still single with no men in her early life except her father.

Eventually, Mr. Grierson died leaving Emily truly alone and in denial about his death. The

narrator accounted, we knew that with nothing left, she would cling to that which has robbed

her, as people will. (55) The narrator addresses Ms. Griersons loneliness, and acknowledges

that her fathers overbearing parenting will continue to plague her life even after his death. As the

story progresses Miss Grierson is seen throughout the town with a foreman, Homer Barron. The

spectacle of their partnership is short lived when Miss Emilys possible love interest disappears.

After Barrons disappearance, the reader sees Miss Griersons final spiral into isolation when she
effectively removes herself from all public appearances and interactions. The narrator accounted,

from that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years. (57)

Throughout the story Miss Emily is in a constant battle of avoiding and repealing the

modern changes taking place within the town. From the start of the story the narrator describes

Ms. Grierson as, a traditional, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town.

(52) Emily is a traditional woman who remains unchanging despite the small steps towards

progress that the town around her makes. One example of Miss Emilys traditional mindset is

showcased when she repeals the idea of paying taxes, because her father once loaned the town

money. Her mindset challenges the next generation of modern mayors and alderman, who send

tax notices to Miss Emilys home. On another occasion the townspeople begin to take part in free

postal service, which required metal numbers be fastened above every door. Of course, the

traditional Ms. Grierson refused the service, because she couldnt allow the new modern changes

to disrupt her life.

The narrator of the story gives readers a very critical, and almost cruel, viewpoint of Miss

Emilys life. However, throughout the story theyre small moments in which the narrator shows

compassion for the lonely, traditional, and isolated southern woman. When her father died the

narrator conveys that, at last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had

become humanized. (54) The townspeople feel compassion for Emily because for the first time

she would be truly alone, and had no one else because of her fathers overbearing ways.

Miss Emilys life story evokes a plethora of emotions from both the narrator and reader.

Her stubbornness and refusal to change induces feelings of frustration for a woman who takes

her traditional lifestyle too seriously. However, I cant help but wonder what mental turmoil
plagues Miss Emilys into isolation. As the story begin to humanize the prestigious southern

women I end feeling compassion and sadness for the woman Miss Emily ultimately became.

Works Cited

Meyer, Michael. Literature to Go. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. Print.

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