William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” tells the story of Miss Emily Grierson’s abnormal life. “A Rose for Emily” contains a number of different themes, each of which can be interpreted differently between readers. Through evidence found through out the short story scholars are able to break down the story to find the primary themes. The three main themes are death, the past and the present, and community vs. isolation.
According to the “A Rose for Emily” overview done by Short Stories for Students, “death is prevalent, both literally and figuratively, in ‘A Rose for Emily’”(5). The narrator of the story only mentions five deaths in “A Rose for Emily”; yet, death is still a key factor in telling the story of Miss Emily Grierson. The deaths that occurred throughout the story have some form of impact on Miss Emily’s life.
The death that has the largest impact on her is the death of her father. Mr. Grierson drove away any male that had a romantic interest in Miss Emily, which Victor Strandberg claims, “has ruined her chances for a normal life and thereby grossly deformed her personality”(1). When Mr. Grierson passed away the ladies of Jefferson went to offer condolences, but when they got to the Griersons home Miss Emily “[tells] them her father was not dead. She [does] that for three days”(Faulkner 518). Even after his death, Mr. Grierson still has a strong hold onto Miss Emily’s life. Miss Emily continues to be a strong-minded woman (like her father taught her to be) through out the rest of her life.
It is argued often that Mr. Grierson was romantically involved with his daughter. Thomas Argiro suggests that if this is to be true “the specter of incest opens the story up to conside...
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...believes that Miss Emily has still isolated herself from the town. There would be years going by before neighbors would see her leave her home. Cleanth Brooks Jr. and Robert Penn Warren propose “the fact that she cannot compete with them in their ordinary life, that fact that she is hopelessly out of touch with the modern world- all of these things make them feel superior to her, and also to the past she represents”(525). She may seem “dry and cold” (Faulkner 517), but the citizens of Jefferson find this aspect of Miss Emily fascinating, which makes her into the “living avatar of the past of Jefferson” (Davis 2).
The main themes of death, past and present, and community vs. isolation shape “A Rose for Emily” into the mysterious story of Miss Emily Grierson’s life. Without these themes Miss Emily would not be herself or the character people have grown to care for.
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