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A Rose For Emily Essay

2299 words - 9 pages

Gavin Stevens, the acclaimed author of "Requiem for a Nun", once wrote, "The past is never dead. The past is not even past." In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily", this ideal of the immortal past actually surviving the merciless progression of time into the present runs deep, almost down to every written word. "A Rose for Emily" takes place after the Civil War, when the South is on the brink of a new century, in the town of Jefferson, Mississippi. This theme of the past versus the present creates an eerie story surrounding the death of old Emily Grierson and her past life. Emily Grierson, the protagonist of this short story, represents the dying old traditions of the South. This representation is possible because she refuses to realize the present and relinquish the past to the continuation of time. The present is largely represented through the words of the anonymous narrator, which the reader can assume is the town and its many facets speaking as a whole, since the story is told in the first person "we", and not "I." Through the existence of Emily and the narrator in "A Rose for Emily", Faulkner invents a story that personifies the abstract battle between the past and the present.The past versus present theme is easily identified even from the first paragraph of the story when the anonymous narrator refers to Emily as "a fallen monument" (667). She is a "monument" because she epitomizes all the ideals of the old South or what the town sees as the past, in general. She had the gentility and grace of a traditional southern woman, who was also once completely controlled by one male figure in her life. These were all typical southern ideals of the past that Emily never seemed to release from her life. Emily was a monument, but a "fallen" one, because the picture of what she had been was subject to death and decay. Decay is an essential word because it depicts the way in which Emily's inability to let go of the past ate away at her and everything around her, even before her death. The word presents a classic case of time catching up with something, and in this case, it is the present slowly catching up with a reluctant past.The story proceeds to paint a picture of the house that Emily lived and died in and the curiosity that surrounded it. The narrator depicts the house in this way: It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gasoline pumps- an eyesore among eyesores. (667) The narrator also says later of the house that it "smelled of dust and disuse- a close, dank smell" (668). Notice that, once again, the word decay is used to represent the state of the house, much like the state...

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