Desperation for love arising from detachment can lead to extreme measures and destructive actions as exhibited by the tumultuous relationships of Miss Emily in William Faulkner's “A Rose for Emily” (rpt. in Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 9th ed. [Boston: Wadsworth, 2006] 556). Miss Emily is confined from society for the majority of her life by her father, so after he has died, she longs for relations that ironically her longing destroys. The despondency and obsession exuded throughout the story portray the predicament at hand.
Miss Emily's relationship with her father is a key factor in the development of her isolation. As she is growing up, he will not let anybody around his daughter, particularly young suitors. The town assumes his decision is due to the idea that “the Griersons [hold] themselves a little too high for what they really [are]” to the point that “none of the young men [are] quite good enough” (559). Because Emily's father keeps her from everyone, she becomes very attached to him. He dies when she is nearly thirty, her only companion gone. Her strong bond to him is so severe that after his death, she denies he was dead at all and will not give his body up to the authorities for three days. The town observes that because she has “nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her,” meaning Emily is so desperate for a companion that when her father is gone, she has nothing left to cling to but him (559). However, he has a lasting effect on her that contributes to her isolation. He instills the Grierson pride, so
that she often does not interact with others. His influence is “too virulent and too furious to die” (562). Emily has a difficult time connecting with anyone because of this attitude and the fact that she has known only her father her entire life.
When Miss Emily finds somebody, though, it quickly pushes her to desperation. Her relationship with Homer Barron is a result of the life and death of her father. Ironically, he is a northern, roughneck Yankee, the exact opposite of any connection a Grierson would consider. Unsuspectingly, Emily is attracted to him, which is an oddity itself considering her lack of personality and his obvious charisma, for “whenever you [hear] a lot of laughing...Homer Barron [will] be in the center of the group” (560). He is also the first man to show an interest in her without her father alive to scare him off. The town is doubtful that the pair will remain together, but Emily's attachments are extreme, as seen when she would not surrender her father's body. The circumstance exhibits how her feelings are greatly intensified towards Homer. However, he is “not a marrying man” (561). When it appears as though he will leave her, she kills him with poison. While seemingly the opposite effect of love, killing Homer is quite in line with her obsession. If he is dead and she keeps Homer all to herself, Emily will...