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A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

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A ROSE FOR EMILY by William Faulkner

  1. Why does the whole Jefferson town go to Ms. Emily Grierson’s funeral?

The townspeople see Ms. Emily as a fallen monument. And they feel the sense of Ms. Emily’s significance in this regard, and attend her funeral out of obligation and respect. It is thought that the men came because they once had good feelings for her, and admired her.  On the other hand, the woman’s reason for coming to the funeral is merely out of curiosity to see the inside of her house which no one had seen in at least ten years.

  1. Describe the Grierson house. Establish the parallelism between the house and its owner, Emily Grierson.

The Grierson house was used as a symbol for Ms. Emily’s physical deterioration and her shift in social standing. On the first part, the house is described as “white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies.” This suggests that the house was not only built for function, but also to seek impression and attention from the townspeople. Just like with Ms. Emily, who is considered to be a wealthy woman of the era, was dressed in a conspicuous manner because her appearance was thought to be a direct reflection of her father, and this gives an impression of wealth to onlookers.  Then as the story progresses, the house is described as “smelling of dust and disuse”. This symbolizes both the physical decline of the house and Ms. Emily. And this was evident on Emily’s aging when her voice is said to be “harsh and rusty, as if from disuse”.

  1. Explain “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty and a care; a sort of heredity and obligation upon the town…” Why does Ms. Emily Grierson attract so much attention? How does Emily respond to such affection?

The townspeople were said to have inherited her and feel responsible for her. This began when Ms. Emily’s father died and left her with no money. And this exempted her from paying taxes making the townspeople pay for her. And as a tradition, the townspeople pass on this inherited duty from generation to generation. Ms. Emily attracted so much attention because she was a curiosity and a piece of gossip. She was someone to talk about, complain about and also worry about. Ms. Emily had no reactions with regards to the attention given to her may be because she grew in a way that her father greatly isolated her from the townspeople.

  1. Describe Emily Grierson in the various stages of her life:

  1. When she was a young girl- she is viewed as weak because she let her father control her life; and she is unwilling to take a stand for herself against her father’s decisions
  2. When her father passed away- she was in denial for some time about her father’s death and shuts herself away for several months, but later on, pursued her own desires for love
  3. When she met Homer Barron- Emily and Barron had somehow hidden their relationship from the townspeople to escape from the people’s disapproval even though their love is believed to be true.
  4. After Homer Barron disappeared- She rarely leaves the house. Her hair was also turning gray and she was gaining weight.
  5. When she was visited by a tax deposition team- She rudely talked to them, and somehow unwelcoming them by not offering them to sit.
  1. What is the conflict in the story? To whom does it reside?

Emily versus society:  As a young girl, Emily did not have a healthy social life because of her strict father who made her an outcast in her own community. Her father doomed her to a solitary life refusing to allow her to have suitors. Emily would not allow the help of outsiders, particularly when her father died. This caused Emily to be alone most of her life. Emily lived in a society that found her interesting but unacceptable.

  1.  How do the people of Jefferson react when they see Emily Grierson with Homer Barron? Why is this relationship met with such ambivalent reactions?

The town heavily disapproves of the affair between Emily and Homer and stops the relationship by bringing Emily’s cousins to town. Other people think that their relationship is impossible due to their geographical differences. Their relationship somehow symbolizes the persisting conflict between the North and the South even though Civil War during that time had long been over.

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