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Interpretations Of William Faulkner's A Rose For Emily

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William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" has been interpreted in many different ways. Most of these rely solely on hints found within the story. I believe that his life can also help one analyze this story. By knowing that Faulkner's strongest influence was his independent mother, one can guess that Miss Emily Grierson's character was based partly on Maud Falkner.

William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi on September 25, 1897. His family moved to Oxford, Mississippi when Faulkner was five years old (Larinde). His parents were Murry and Maud Falkner (Zane 2). Faulkner added the "u" to his last name on his Royal Air Force application for unknown reasons (5).

Faulkner's great-grandfather, Colonel William C. Falkner had moved from Tennessee to the Mississippi Delta in 1841. The Colonel was a Civil War hero, plantation owner, railroad builder, and even a writer (Larinde). Faulkner's grandfather and father were both respected, though not wealthy. They were also both alcoholics.

Faulkner and his father never had a very good relationship. He and his mother, though, were very close. Maud gave him his love of art and literature. She influenced Faulkner more than anyone else with her strong independence (Zane 3-4). She may have been the inspiration for the strong, independent character, Emily Grierson.

"William Faulkner was a quiet but mischievous child, polite and rude, loving and withdrawn" (4). He did well in grade school, but began showing signs of truancy during adolescence. Faulkner dropped out of high school in eleventh grade.

In 1918, Faulkner attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army but was turned down. He then applied to the Royal Air Force where he adds the "u" to his last name. He was soon discharged and returned to Oxford, Mississippi. Here he attended the university for two year.

"In the decade that followed, Faulkner donned a host of other identities, alternately and aristocrat, a bohemian, or a derelict" (Zane 5). Faulkner established himself as a major novelist in 1929 with the book The Sound and the Fury (Larinde). He wrote twenty novels and many short stories (Zane 1). His greatest achievements were the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, the National Book Award, and Pulitzer Prizes. All of these awards came after he was fifty (7).

Although Faulkner lived in Canada, New Orleans, New York, Hollywood, and Virginia, most of his life was spent in his native Mississippi (Faulkner 177). "In his works William Faulkner used the American South as a microcosm for the universal theme of time" (Larinde). Almost all of his stories are set in the Deep South. Some critics describe Faulkner as "the quintessential Southern writer with his greatest works centered in this region" (Zane 1). Many of his stories' central themes seem to be based on themes that the South has struggled with for decades. These are race, gender, repression, myth, and heroism (2).

William Faulkner struggled with financial problems and alcoholism like his father and grandfather ("William Faulkner"). He died of a heart attack on July 6, 1962 and is buried in St. Peter's Cemetery.

William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" is an intriguing story of a lady who gets away with murder in the South around the turn of the century. There are many different interpretations regarding the meaning of this story. These range from Ray West's theory of Emily Grierson's attempt to stop time to Jack Scherting's suggestion that she suffers from an Oedipal complex (Blythe 192).

In my analysis of Faulkner's story, I will give several different interpretations written by different writers. Then I will explain which one I agree with the most and why.

Celia Rodriguez believes that in "A Rose for Emily" the past is contrasted with the present era. The past is seen in Miss Emily, Colonel Sartoris, the old Negro servant, and the Board of Alderman. Emily's suitor, the Yankee Homer Barron, the new Board of Alderman, and "the next generation with its more modern ideas" (Faulkner 178) represent the present (1).

Emily lived completely in the past. She told the new Board of Alderman that Colonel Sartoris had explained to her that she had no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris, however, had been dead for at least ten years. When Homer Barron tried to escape from her world into the new world, Emily murdered him to keep him in the past with her (2).

Cleanth Brooks believes that Miss Emily's actions are the result of her strong independence. She refuses to be criticized by the town when she gallivants around with Homer Barron. She refuses to be left by Barron, so she murders him. She refuses to pay taxes because the long dead Colonel Sartoris told her she was not obligated to (191).

Brook's admires Emily because she refused to conform to public opinion in a time when women were demanded to. Explains that the moral of the story is a warning against



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