Responses to Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

“Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity for her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue” (435).

Once again, the reader lies privy to Faulkner’s internal workings and we have to wonder how Faulkner truly feels about women, particularly black women. Quite often in literature, we see a woman, who has lost one or more major male figures, living in miserable, dark and dusty isolation. In this case, we see Miss Emily Grierson and we have seen Miss Rosa Coldfield, both of whom resurrect the infamous Miss Havisham . Faulkner mentions that Miss Emily’s fat makes her look obese, but on many others, she would have been seen as only “plump.” In her extra weight, we literally view her emotional baggage and realize that for many others, her losses may not have had such dramatic negative effects; we also see similar dramatization in the experiences of Miss Coldfield and Miss Havisham.

“âÂ?¦’Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.’ But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige – without calling it noblesse oblige” (438).

This short story also represents Faulkner’s loyalty to the south and its representation. While some members of the town consider that Miss Emily will ignore her southern background and southern family honor, true southerners appreciate and remain faithful to the south and its inherent values despite all adversity.

“The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded himâÂ?¦Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair” (443-444).

It has been said that this story can be interpreted as a symbol of the post-Civil War south. Following the Civil War, the south adopted the general feeling that they had not simply been defeated, but that they had been destroyed. Similarly, southerners and their ideals were largely recognized and debated before the war, but were unable to withstand the forward motion of time, eventually succumbing to the north and a new way of life. In this last section of A Rose for Emily, we see the impact of tragic love and love lost; southerners had once been in love with themselves and their own ideals, rejecting any others. While the south could never fully return to their former ways following their devastating Civil War losses, many of its people remained quietly faithful to the old life. Likewise, we realize that for years, Emily has been hiding away a skeleton and secretly sneaking away to pay her respects and demonstrate her continued loyalty, even though the era has long past.

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