Free College Essays - Fear in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

Free College Essays - Fear in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

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The Power of Fear in A Rose for Emily 


A Rose for Emily  Life is fickle and most people will be a victim of circumstance and the times. Some people choose not to let circumstance rule them and, as they say, “time waits for no man”. Faulkner’s Emily did not have the individual confidence, or maybe self-esteem and self-worth, to believe that she could stand alone and succeed at life especially in the face of changing times. She had always been ruled by, and depended on, men to protect, defend and act for her. From her Father, through the manservant Tobe, to Homer Barron, all her life was dependent on men.

The few flashes of individuality showed her ability to rise to the occasion, to overcome her dependency, when the action was the only solution available. Like buying the poison or getting money by offering china-painting classes.

 Life is sad and tragic; some of which is made for us and some of which we make ourselves. Emily had a hard life. Everything that she loved left her. Her father probably impressed upon her that every man she met was no good for her. The townspeople even state “when her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad…being left alone…She had become humanized” (219). This sounds as if her father’s death was sort of liberation for Emily. In a way it was, she could begin to date and court men of her choice and liking. Her father couldn’t chase them off any more. But then again, did she have the know-how to do this, after all those years of her father’s past actions? It also sounds as if the townspeople thought Emily was above the law because of her high-class stature. Now since the passing of her father she may be like them, a middle class working person. Unfortunately, for Emily she became home bound.

She didn’t socialize much except for having her manservant Tobe visit to do some chores and go to the store for her. Faulkner depicts Emily and her family as a high social class. Emily did carry her self with dignity and people gave her that respect, based from fear of what Emily could do to them. Emily was a strong willed person especially when she went into the drug store for the arsenic.

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She said ”Arsenic.” “I want arsenic” (220). All along, the druggist wanted to know what she wanted it for and she answered back “I want the best you have. I don’t care what kind” (220). Needless to say, the druggist never got an answer. The druggist gave Emily poison out of fear and respect, possibly.

Yes, Emily didn’t socialize much, but she did have a gentleman friend, Homer Barron. Homer was a Forman for a road construction company, Faulkner writes “… a forman named Homer Barron, a Yankee—a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face”(220). Emily’s father probably would not be pleased with this affair with Homer, considering her upbringing. Homer was a ‘commoner’ and did not fit the social standards of her father. Of course, Emily, like most women dream of getting married and having a family and most of all, being loved. The gossip around town was spreading; the townspeople said “when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased, but vindicated; ... She wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had materialized” (221). Emily wanted to be loved, and she was determined that Homer would be her true love to rescue her from fear, fear of being alone. Indeed Emily took a great liking to Homer, but Homer’s feelings about the relationship were different. It was rumored that “even Homer himself had remarked--he liked men, and it was known that he drunk with younger men in the Elk’s club—that he was not a marrying man” (221). Homer left Emily and the town for three days, and then came back. While Homer was gone, Emily still was preparing for her wedding. She bought invitations and clothes for Homer. Emily grew fearful of Homer’s departure, fear of being left alone again. Faulkner writes” A neighbor saw the Negro man (Tobe) admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening. And that’s the last we saw of Homer Barron” (221).

Once again, a fear of change, the fear of losing Homer and being left alone, she decided to poison him. Feeling that if she could not have him alive she thought she could keep him with her if he were dead and she did. Because of her seclusion, no one really knew just how bad it was. Not until her death did, the truth come out about Homer’s death. The “Rose” for Emily, Faulkner talks about in the title of this fictitious story could be found in the tomb like bedroom she created, which wasn’t found till Emily’s death. “Upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded light” (223). These rose colored items gave the room an artificial rose like color. The cliché “as seen through rose colored glasses” comes to mind. Homer dead, all those years, among the rose colored room. He was also cast with the rose color about the room. Everything in this room was Emily’s rose, locked away for keeping, so she would not be left alone.
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