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Symbolism in "A Rose For Emily" by Faulkner

Symbolism in "A Rose For Emily" by Faulkner

William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is a wonderful short story that begins with the funeral of the main character, Emily Grierson. Faulkner uses an anonymous narrator that is considered to be the voice of “the town” and tells the story out of chronological order. The story basically uses the life of Emily Grierson as an allegory for the changes in the post-bellum South after the Civil War. Through the use of a series of symbols, such as Emily’s house, hair, clothing, and even Emily’s “rose”, Faulkner illustrates the collapse of the post-bellum South.

The characteristics of Miss Emily’s house symbolize her appearance as she becomes decrepit with time and neglect. The “… house had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street” (325). Then it became an “eyesore among eyesores” (325). Miss Emily changed the same ways as her house did and she too became an eyesore. She had once been “a slender figure in white” (327) and later she becomes “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water with eyes lost in the fatty ridges of her face” (326). During Miss Emily’s death she had been referred to as a “fallen monument” (325), which could mean she was once something beautiful and affluent but with time she grew old and impoverished. These same changes from affluence to impoverishment occurred in the South after the Civil War.

There are many symbols that direct you to believe Miss Emily is still living in her post bellum era when she was in her prime with her father. She will not allow the town to put a house number on her home for the free postal service. She also tells the tax collectors to talk to Colonel Sartoris (who has been dead for ten years) to resolve her problem that she doesn’t pay taxes. This is also shown with Emily’s very few words she used to persuade the druggist to get the arsenic poison. Another particular symbol that exemplifies Miss Emily’s ignorance and stubbornness towards time is her watch. This example involves Emily as an old woman with her gold watch around her neck. The watch hung so low...

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Category:   Literature

Length:   4 pages (885 words)

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