A Rose for Emily is a southern gothic short story about an elder women stuck in her ways. When we are first introduced to Emily it is at her funeral where the entire town has come to falsely pay their respects. The men are only there because they viewed Emily as a fallen monument and the women are there to peer inside a house that has been closed up to the world for decades. Through-out the story the narrator gradually describes Emily’s decent into madness and her unwillingness to accept the change happening around her. The central theme of A Rose for Emily focuses on the never ending battle between tradition and change, which is expertly portrayed by William Faulkner’s use of setting, symbolism and character.
William Faulkner chose a time period that was crucial for America. During the post-civil war era the fight between tradition and change was still prevalent amongst Americans, especially between the Confederate and Union soldiers. However, the time period isn’t the focus of the setting just the foundation for Emily’s small town in Mississippi where everyone knew each other and gossip was rampant among the people. Emily’s neighborhood and house are two other examples of setting that Faulkner uses to develop his theme. The narrator describes Emily’s neighborhood as once being the selected street to live where all of the august names once lived. However, they died out leaving only Emily, which turned the once most prestigious neighborhood into a pigsty. Where the rest of the town was advancing and changing Emily refused to accept the changes surrounding her. This can be seen in paragraph 50 where the narrator remarks “When the town got free postal delivery Miss Emily alone refused to le...
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...and the painting pupils grew up and fell away from old tiresome traditions (Faulkner 521).” Faulkner was brilliantly able to portray Emily as a tradition and the town’s people as change to give the reader a better understanding and insight into the constant conflict between tradition and change.
A Rose for Emily is a timeless tell that beautifully illustrates the continual battle between tradition and change. William Faulkner was able to craftily write a compelling story that spoke about an issue that is still going on today. Faulkner used his artful talent with words to develop the theme through setting, symbolism and character. Giving the reader insight into never ending, always constant struggle of tradition and change, that still can be seen today in people with liberal or conservative political ideologies as well as, in the older and newer generations of today.
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