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A Rose for Emily

6 Pages 1474 Words

A Rose for Emily takes place after the Civil War and into the 1900’s in the town of Jefferson,
Mississippi—a town very similar to the one in which William Faulkner spent most of his life. It is a story
of the conflict between the old and the new South, the past and the present—with Emily and the things
around her steadfastly representing the dying old traditions and the present expressed mostly through the
words of the narrator but also through Homer Barron and the new board of aldermen. The issue of racism
also runs throughout the story.
In part I, Faulkner refers to Emily as a "fallen monument", a monument to the southern gentility
that existed before the Civil War. Her house is described as having once been white—the color of youth,
innocence and purity, and also of the white society—but decayed now and smelling of dust and disuse. It
stands between the cotton wagons (the past) and the gasoline pumps (the present)--an "eyesore among
eyesores". Emily comes from an upper class family and grew up privileged and protected by her father.
An agreement between her father and Colonel Sartoris—a character we assume was a veteran of the Civil
War and who also represented the old South with his edict that no Negro woman should appear on the
streets without an apron--exempted her from paying taxes. The authorities decide to pay Emily a visit to
try to collect the taxes due the town. When we are introduced to Emily, she is described as being in
black—the color of death—and her eyes are lifeless…"two small pieces!
of coal". The description of Emily is not unlike that of her house, and I thought of a corpse when reading
that "she looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue."--the
dying old traditions. The tarnished gold head on her black cane is the one reminder of her affluent, upper
class position of years ago. An...

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