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The Clash Between Past And Present In "A Rose For Emily" By William Faulkner

880 words - 4 pages

In “A Rose for Emily”, written by William Faulkner, a character (Miss Emily) chooses to live in the past, and “den[ies] changing the customs and the passage of time” . Faulkner succeeds in showing the great contrast between the past and the present era, not only in Miss Emily herself, but also in many other ways. Therefore, the aim of this current essay is to explore the ways in which he presents this recurrent clash between past and present.However, this clash did not appear from one day to another. The South, which was less modern than the North, held the curse of slavery, and the Civil War was started because of it. The South was devastated and its moral values, such as the Code of Chivalry, which was said to protect women but actually oppressed them, collapsed. The newer generation came along with its more modern values, which were impure as well. While the past based its beliefs on the artificial rules set by society, the present thought that everything should be written down. When a member from the rising generation asks Judge Stevens to do something about the smell coming from Miss Emily’s house, he denies doing so, respecting the code of chivalry, because it is not correct to “accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad”, although the Board of Aldermen later decide to enter Miss Emily’s garden without her permission so as to spray lime, something which shows that the hypocritical values are common to both times.The house in which the Griersons have lived for generations is presented as “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”. However this is part of the past, for now there is a contrast between the“stubborn and coquettish decay” of the Griersons’ house and “the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps”, a juxtaposition which represents the constant struggle between past and present, in which present always “encroach[es] and obliterate[s]” the past. That gap is not something to be profited from, for it is “an eyesore among eyesores”.The narrative techniques also help to convey the great contrasts in time, those huge gaps that just time is able to make and which nobody can bridge. The past perfect is perfectly used to introduce past characteristics. When Faulkner writes that “Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town”, it is clear that that has happened in the past, and not now. The house is “set on...

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