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A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

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In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," we see how past events affect the life of the main character Miss Emily, especially her inability to accept change. Throughout the story Miss Emily goes to extreme measures to protect her social status. Miss Emily lives in the past to shield herself from a future that holds no promises and no guarantees. William Faulkner illustrates Miss Emily's inability to accept change through the physical, social and historical settings, all of which are intimately related to the Grierson house.

The Grierson house is a physical reminder of Miss Emily's reluctance to change. The "big squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and scrolled balconies in the heavenly lightsome style of the seventies (236)" was located on one of the most prominent and prestigious neighborhoods in the town of Jefferson. However, times changed and new generations replaced the old ones and the town moved on towards the future. The houses were replaced by cotton gins and auto garages until only Miss Emily's house was left. The Grierson house is a visible reminder that Miss Emily can not accept change. Miss Emily refuses to change with the town because her family once dominated it, and change means her family may not be the center of attention anymore. Even the interior of the house provides evidence of her lack of progression. "It smelled of dust and disuse (237)." The leather of the furniture was cracked, and when the chairs were sat upon, "a faint dust rose about [the] thighs (237)." Miss Emily, like the Grierson house, seems to be submerged in the shadows of time and refuses to let the light of the future through. The Grierson name was b...

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...s to ignore time so that the Grierson name will always be important to the town of Jefferson and she can continue to live a secure life.

The physical, historical and social settings are linked through the Grierson house in unique ways that highlight Miss Emily's reluctance to change with her surrounding environment. Throughout her life Miss Emily is determined to control the thoughts of the townspeople in order to protect the status of her family name. Miss Emily's social prestige is the highlight of her life and in order to protect this she has to live her life in the past. Upon her death, however, the town learns about Miss Emily's secrets and the life she really lived. Miss Emily's attempts may have worked, at least in her mind, but now the town of Jefferson will not remember the Grierson family as one of high social status, but rather as one of insanity.
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