Analysis of “A Rose for Emily”
“A Rose for Emily,” written by William Faulkner is a story written in flashback by an unknown limited third person narrator. Its main character is Emily Grierson whose selfish, possessive father was one of the last generations of the “Old South.” By the time of his death all he had was his pride, and his house, his daughter was left improvised, he knew that he had nothing to leave to her yet; he drove away all her suitors. Miss Emily was in quite a shock when he died and refuses to even admit that he is dead. Miss Emily is well aware that the town knows of her plight, that she is penniless, but she walk around with her head held high, wrapped in arrogance, reminding the town that she is a Grierson and an aristocrat. Miss Emily uses these two characteristics to dig herself out of situations that no one else in town would dare to do. In this story Faulkner implies several themes but the most prevailing theme is the dying past to which Miss Emily clings.
Writing with all the elements of the story is not something that is done by many writers, however there are some elements that must be utilized if the author wants to maintain his or her audience’s interest; in this story Faulkner uses setting, character, and figurative language to retain his hold on his reader. Faulkner places the story in Yoknapatawpha County, Jefferson, Mississippi, a setting that is familiar to him; Faulkner’s use of symbol is a strong element in the story; the Greisen’s house in its splendor was a monument in the town, a representation of the granger of the South is now in decay just like the past has died. There is no longer the rich and the poor; due to civil war and abolishment, the wealthy find themselves working their own land or moving away to be hired; Faulkner describes the dilapidated look of the house among garages and factories, a place where ordinary people could not venture before the crash of the “Old South.” His use of simple language is uncanny. He defines Miss Emily’s character as she changed from a slender, attractive young lady to a gruesome middle aged woman. Qun Xie says:
The master artist William Faulkner verbally paints the portraits of a tragic woman, Miss Emily. Throughout this story, Faulkner creates numerous figurative portraits of Emily, and makes her physical appearance change dramatically. The description of Emily's changing physical appearance in different periods enables the readers to watch how Emily transforms from a slender lady to an old gloomy "bloated" one, and from an obedient, genteel young girl to a murderer and corpse keeper (2007).
Most of Faulkner’s writings have setting in Mississippi, a place that he is familiar to him. He was born and raised in Oxford Mississippi. As a child he listened to the folklore of Mississippi and developed his stories and novels from them. Everyone knows that New Orleans and Mississippi are the embodiment of gothic in America; consequently, it was easy for Faulkner to write as he did. It is said that “A Rose for Emily” is partly true. It is the story of a Northerner who came to town when the roads were being built and marry a Southern girl albeit her parents objected because they thought he was beneath her. The name of the girl’s family was Neilson rhymes with Grierson. Even though Faulkner lived shortly in other places, he always returns to Mississippi that he not only write about but did most of his writing. He knows much of the decline of the “Old South;” his parents lost their money and home like many other Southerners as a result of the civil war and abolishment. According to Faulkner’s biography; “The human drama in Faulkner's writings is then built on the model of the actual, historical drama extending over almost a century and a half. Each story and each novel contributes to the construction of a whole, which is the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County and its inhabitants” ( web).
William Faulkner is the writer among writers, added to his fame is the Nobel Peace Prized for Literature. Evidently Faulkner had talent, he was a child protégé, who dropped out of school in the sixth grade because he was bored; years later he entered the University of Mississippi even though he did not finished high school. William Faulkner was a Modernism writer, in his “A Rose for Emily,” he displays some of the traits of a modern writer with symbols and imageries. Faulkner does not say everything; he implies them with imagery as with the dust all over Miss Emily’s house. Aubrey Binder says:
It is Faulkner’s dust imagery that provides the key to the understanding the role of the past and the manner in which it lingers in the present in “A Rose for Emily.” The slow accumulation and obscuring nature of dust symbolizes not only how the passage of time and change “cover” yet do not erase events of the past but also reflect how the past is uncovered” (2012).
. Despite Faulkner’s initial imitation of other writers, he wrote in his own style and that is part of his fame, no one writes like William Faulkner. In 1931 when “A Rose for Emily” was published nationally, it was published without his permission; in those days short stories and poems were usually published in local magazines and others could republish them. Faulkner lived to see his work gain momentum and become acceptable; he lived to receive the acclolade his work deserves.
In his biography, William Faulkner is hailed as great giant standing five feet six inches. Calling him simple “renowned Mississippi writer” is an understatement, as a Nobel Prize-winner for Literature his notoriety is celebrated and broadcast around the world and he is greeted the greatest writer of the twentieth century. Cullenand. and Watkins in their tribute to Faulkner say: “Few writers can capture in their writings the flavor of the people's folk-tales. William Faulkner has shown a marvelous ability to see what has happened, to remember the tales he has heard, and to use in his fiction the most interesting aspects of the life he has known. Almost all of his short stories can finally be traced to an origin in colorful local characters and events”(1967).
Binder, Aubrey. (2012) “Uncovering the Past: The Dust Imagery in “A Rose for Emily.”’ The Explicator Vol. 70, 1. 5 Print
Cullenand, John, B. Watkins Floyd C, (1961). “Old Times in the Faulkner Country.” Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 70-71, Print
Qun, Xie. (2007). “Analysis of the Changing Portraits in ‘A Rose for Emily"’ Canadian Social Science. 3, 2. 56. Print
"William Faulkner – Biographical." (2013) Nobelprize.org.Nobel Media AB. Web. 15 Jul 2013.