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Dead Men's Path

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Paper #1: Unattainable Love and Time in

Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"

In the story "A Rose for Emily," the author, William Faulkner, recounts the life of a woman from an elite family in the Deep South. Emily Grierson is an eccentric spinster who goes through her life searching for love and security. Due to her relationship with her father, and the intrusiveness of the townspeople in her life, she is unable to get away from her past. Arising from a young woman's search for love, the use of symbolism profoundly develops the theme, therefore, bringing to light the issues of morality.

Faulkner tells the story through primarily a first person narration, primarily through the eyes of the townspeople, which is a white southern society. They too have a type of love affair with "Miss Emily." Emily Grierson is known to the townspeople as an icon. They feel a sense of obligation to her, as the narrator explains, "Alive, Miss Emily has been a tradition, a duty, and a care; sort of hereditary obligation upon the town" (404). The relationship between the town and Emily is symbiotic, in the respects that neither can exist without the other, this in turn, makes the narrator and Emily foils.

The author chooses to use a broken timeline to begin the story where the funeral of "Miss Emily" takes place, and all the townspeople come to admire her home for their own selfish reasons, "the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house" (404). Furthermore, the author explains about a tax bill that in 1894, a Mayor named, Colonel Sartoris "invented a tale to the effect that Miss Emily's father had loaned money to the town," and goes on to explain how "only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it" (404). The chronological order of events, leads the reader to examine each piece as if it is a puzzle, enhancing the mystery as they look for the next clue.

With the change in the coming generations, the townspeople no longer felt the need to uphold the tradition for the Grierson's family, therefore, they went before the Board of Aldermen, and asked for their help to get the payment. When they went to her door, an old Negro greeted them, where the narrator explains, "no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier" (405). The picture that is painted for the reader is one of "dust and disuse" (405). When Emily enters the scene it is said that "Her skeleton was small and spare; . . . She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water" (405).

Next, the narrator explains about the smell that the townspeople began to notice, the author states that it was "thirty years before the smell . . . [and] two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart - the one we believed would marry her - had deserted her" (405). Once again, the townspeople interfere wanting someone to tell her about it. The men that were sent out to snoop around her place were "three graybeards and one younger one, a member of the rising generation" (406). As they go to leave, they notice Emily in the window with a dark light behind with her "upright torso motionless as that of an idol" (406). To Emily she was unaware how much the townspeople looked up to her with such high admiration and love.

Emily's father had passed and the townspeople were split on whether they felt sorry for her or not. In addition, a memory was triggered of her great-aunt and how she had gone crazy. Some felt, now, since the years had passed, that the Grierson's name was held too high in the town. They remembered how the father kept her from finding love by inspecting the men that came calling on her and wondering why she would tell them that he was still alive, when in reality he had passed away. It took her three days until the ministers where sent to find that he was indeed dead, and they needed to dispose of his body. The townspeople went on to say that, "We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will do" (406). When she was seen again she was described as, "her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows - sort of tragic and serene" (406).

The town has a contract for paving sidewalks, bringing into the story a man named, Homer Barron. He is a Yankee, and is very vocal with his feeling towards "niggers." Emily and Homer are seen in their buggy traveling through town getting the women all in a stir. Some felt that this was a terrible thing because of her upbringing to be involved with a man of his stature, and that he only worked on a paving crew. Now, the women became jealous that she might possibly marry him, and called in her cousins to oversee the situation. However, Homer soon disappeared from sight and the people were afraid that she might "kill herself."

Next, Emily goes to the drugstore and is seen buying rat poison, and the rumors started again. She was described as, "a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the flesh of which was stained across the temples and about the eye-sockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper's



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