Resistance to Change: Miss Emily Grierson
The main character in the short story “A Rose for Emily” written by William Faulkner is Emily Grierson. She lives in Jefferson Mississippi, in a fictional county called Yoknapatawpha County. The people of Yoknapatawpha saw Miss Emily as "a small, fat woman" who was very cold, distant, and lived in her past. Her home "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...”. She lived in a little community that was changing and becoming more modern unlike her house. Her house, as Faulkner describes, "...smelled of dust and disuse-a close, dank smell"; "it was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture". The look of Emily’s home bothered Emily’s community along with many other things about her. Emily has a "hereditary obligation upon the town". She is from a family of wealth that brought tradition to Yoknapatawpha County. When the town started making modern changes fitting into the next generation Emily became stubborn and showed this by refusing to pay taxes to her county. Emily repeats, "I have no taxes in Jefferson" four times before dismissing the deputation. Thomas Robert Argiro, the author of a critical essay called “Miss Emily After Dark” states that, “[Emily]… struggles with personal grief, a restricted social life, socio-economic decline, and romantic misfortune…” (par.2). Miss Emily is misunderstood by the townspeople and is resistant to the changes around her as well in her life.
Emily Grierson is a reserved person and does not associate with anyone in the town. Colonial Sartoris, the mayor in 1894 remitted Emily’s taxes dating from the death of her father till the end of time. Almost ten years after Sartoris death letters were sent regarding her taxes to be paid, and a response was never received. Finally there was a meeting of the Board of Aldermen this arrangement sent deputation to Emily’s house. Faulkner states that the deputation “…knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier.” When confronted about the taxes, Emily stated that she did not have to pay taxes and if they had a problem they can talk to Sartoris. This symbolizes Emily’s isolation from the rest of the townspeople.
When Emily’s father passed away she became reserved and was in denial of his death. As the ladies of the town got ready to meet at Emily’s house to give their condolences Emily stood at the door dressed like any other day and told them that her father was not dead. The narrator says, “She did that for three days…” before she allowed his corpse to be removed from her home. Emily was hitting rock bottom as her father passed away and it seems she would never be married as she is thirty and still single.
The summer following Emily’s father’s death the town decided to start construction on the sidewalks to repave them....