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A Rose For Emily By William Faulkner

1275 words - 5 pages

In Faulkner’s, “A Rose for Emily”, Emily lives in a world of her own making. This is because townspeople in Jefferson holds Miss Emily in such high regards. To them, she symbolizes the customs of the old south, or what the town Jefferson once was. For Emily and also for the townspeople time is relative, the past is an ever-present realm in Jefferson. For this reason people wish to respect Emily and preserve her customs; even if it means intruding into her personal life, or turning the cheek towards her suspicious actions. In the story Falkner introduces the importance of preserving the traditions of an old Southern town. This is done through his choice in literary elements: such as setting, motif, point of view, symbolism, and metaphor.
The first literary element to discuss is the setting. The setting of Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is in a little southern town called Jefferson. Emily was born and raised during the slavery era or what they consider the time of the “old South”. This can be supported by the fact that Emily has a servant named Tobe. Tobe, who was a slave, dutifully cared for Emily and tended to her demands until her dying day, “the Negro...going in and out with a market basket,”(Faulkner 222). However, the town of Jefferson was an urban society moving into the developmental period, “The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks,” (223). Along with getting paved sidewalks the town also begins to receive free postal delivery. Emily attempts to maintain her old Southern traditions by declining to let the townsmen fasten metal numbers above her door and affix a mailbox to her house. This was, along with many others, Emily’s way of maintaining her old South tradition.
Similarly, Faulkner’s use of motif helps support the theme of preserving tradition. Because, Emily was raised during the old south era. She was the subject of the townspeople’s controlling gaze. All of which were brought upon her because of her father’s high standings in the town. Emily’s father was an authoritative man, who was proud of his southern heritage and of his family’s status in the town. As a result, the residents of Jefferson held her to her father’s heritage. When Emily first began her affair with Homer the people of Jefferson were baffled, “how could she- a well-bred Southern lady- abide an intimate relationship with a day laborer,” (Scherting 401). The women of Jefferson, stuck in their old ways of thinking, believed that Emily was setting a bad example for the children and that she was disgracing the town with her untasteful relationship. In order to preserve tradition the women of Jefferson did what they could to end this debauchery.
In addition, Faulkner’s choice of first person point of view helps bring to light the theme of preserving tradition. Therefore, giving the reader the opportunity of experiencing the town's position. For example, the narrator presents to the reader that Emily bought arsenic, but when asked for what reason she...

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