In William Faulkner’s story, “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner uses symbolism as a literary element to keep the reader interested in his writing. There are many characters and materials that Faulkner placed throughout the story with hidden meaning. When he describes dust being in a scene, the reader may scan over it, not giving the element much thought. The dust, however, does hold a significant message. Dust was present in Ms. Emily’s home all throughout the story. Ms. Emily spent most of her time in her home. She used her house to recluse herself from society and is also where she died. With this being said, dust is a reoccurring object throughout the story that symbolizes aging, the state of being a recluse, and death.
When I think of dust, I think of old materials or places that have not been used for a long time. In “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner did a great job using dust as a symbolism for aging. In the beginning of the story, Miss Emily’s house was described as once beautiful: “It was a big, squarish 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” (787). Although the house was once beautiful, as time goes by, the house becomes old and loses its beauty: “…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 the gasoline pumps- an eyesore among eyesores” (787). Later, when the Aldermen come to the house to receive Miss Emily’s tax payment, they describe the aged house from the inside: “It smelled of dust and disuse- a close, dank smell” (788). It appears that Miss Emily is afraid to change from old to new, and tries to keep the beauty her house once possessed. In result, the house grows old and does not fit in with its surroundings.
Dust is also symbolism for Miss Emily being a recluse from society. The Aldermen had to show up to her house for the taxes because Miss Emily refused to reply to any of their letters they had written her:
“On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came, and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call at...