Emily Grierson’s Need For Control in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily Essays

Emily Grierson’s Need For Control in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily Essays

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Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” illustrates the evolution of a small, post-Civil War community, as the new generation of inhabitants replaces the pre-Civil War ideals with more modern ideas. At the center of the town is Emily Grierson, the only remaining remnant of the upper class Grierson family, a “Southern gentlewoman unable to understand how much the world has changed around her.” (Kazin, 2). This essay will focus on Emily Grierson and her attempts to control change after her father’s death.

Emily’s need to control change is first evidenced through her relationship with her father. Their bond, based on a high-class aristocratic ideal system, lasted until the death of her father. A mental image of Mr. Grierson’s relationship with Emily is painted by the narrator, who “speaks for his community” (Rodman, 3), as “Miss Emily…in the background, her father…in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.” Mr. Grierson’s position between Emily and the area outside the house prevents anyone from entering the house or leaving the house. Bullwhip in hand, Emily’s father fends off any would-be husbands because, as Dennis W. Allen states, “no suitor is ‘good enough for Mrs. Emily’” (689). Allen goes on to say that “Mr. Grierson stands between his daughter and the outside world…. Emily’s romantic involvements are limited to an incestuous fixation on her father.” (689). This incestuous relationship, though not implicitly stated, is highly probable since the only male that she loves is her father. This special bond reveals itself after the death of Emily’s father. According to the speaker, “When her father died, it got about that the house was all that ...


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Birk, John F. "Tryst beyond Time: Faulkner's 'Emily' and Keats." Studies in Short Fiction 28.2 (Spring 1991): 203-13.

Blythe, Hal. "Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" Explicator 47.2 (Winter 1989): 26-30.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature for Composition. 4th ed. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, et al. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

Kazin, Alfred. Bright Book of Life. Boston: Little Brown Company, 1973.

Kobler, J. F. "Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" Explicator 32 (1974): 65.

Muller, Gil. "Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" Explicator 33 (1975): 79.

Rodman, Isaac. "Irony and Isolation: Narrative Distance in Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" Faulkner Journal 8.2 (Spring 1993): 3-12.

Schwab, Milinda. "A Watch for Emily." Studies in Short Fiction 28.2 (Spring 1991): 215-17.

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