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Emily Grierson Living in the Past in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

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Emily Grierson Living in the Past in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily


   In "A Rose for Emily," by William Faulkner, Emily Grierson seems to be living with her father in what people referred to as the old South.  However, most of the story takes place after the Civil War, but Miss Emily is clearly living in the past.  As critic Frederick Thum pointed out, "Many people are able to survive in the present, but give little or no thought to the future, and these people usually live in the past.  Such a mind is the mind of Miss Emily Grierson..."(1).  Miss Emily's comprehension of death, her relationship with the townspeople, and her reaction toward her taxes are clear examples that she is living in the past.

            At the beginning of the story, the narrator tells the reader that "our whole town went to her funeral"(336).  The narrator goes on and informs the reader that,  "She was a 'fallen monument...[sig] a tradition, a duty and a care: a sort of hereditary obligation upon this town'"(Pierce 850).  "Miss Emily was referred to as a 'fallen monument' because she was a 'monument' of Southern gentility, and ideal of past values but fallen because she had shown herself susceptible to death (and decay" (Rodriguez 1).  By the time of Emily's death most of the people in her town were younger than she and had never been able to include her in their lives or community activities.  She has stood mainly as a example of an older ideal of Southern womanhood, even though she had grown fat and pale in her later years.  The older and younger generations of townspeople treated Miss Emily differently.  "'The older generation, under the mayoralty of Colonel Sartois, has relieved Miss Emily of her taxes and has sent its children to take...


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...licts between them.  Her refusal or inability to move out of this world is reflected in her comprehension of death, her relationship with the townspeople, and her reaction toward her taxes.

Works Cited and Consulted

Faulkner, William.  "A Rose For Emily" Literature and the Writing Process  Eds. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 4th Ed. Upper Saddle River:  Prentince Hall, 1996.

Pierce, Constance, "William Faulkner." Critical Survey of Short Fiction Ed. Frank N. MaGill. 7 vols.  Pasadena, California:  Salem Press, 1993: 848-857.

Rodriquez,Celia. "An Analysis of 'A Rose for Emily.'" 9 Sept. 1996. 17 Mar. 1998 http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/daniel/amlit/reader/South?radriquezerose.html

Them, Frederick.  "A Rose for Emily:  Confusion of Past and Present." 2 Oct. 1995. 17 Mar.1998 http://sru.ocs.drexel.edu.undergrad/st93mey7/fred/rose.html


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