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A Rose for Emily – Changing Traditions


A Rose for Emily– Altering Traditions

Alexandra Cumberland Mrs. Kohlmaier English II PreAP, Duration 1 4/17/ 2012 Altering Traditions Ancient structures, historical monoliths, and even people are standard examples which help shape and affect a city. Customs are an essential role in keeping a city’s history, but when individuals are reluctant to change the past, there is a battle for development. William Faulkner’s use of significance, narrative structure, and juxtaposition aid convey the style of traditions versus progress in “A Rose for Emily”.

Narrative structure, such as chronology and the story’s point-of-view, is used by Faulkner to reveal the general style of traditions versus development. The story is told by an unnamed first-person storyteller which represents the whole town of Jefferson. Faulkner’s use of this first-person viewpoint story telling works in assisting the reader comprehend the attitudes of the townspeople towards Miss Emily. The storyteller in the story states, “we did not state she was crazy then.

We believed she needed to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to hold on to that which had actually robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner 3). In this quote, Faulkner continuously utilizes the pronoun “we” to integrate the ideas of the townspeople into a single narrative voice. This strategy is utilized to assist the reader understand Emily from their point of view and the battle for them to alter her traditions.

Faulkner also does not inform this story in sequential order. Review Charmaine Mosby states that “Faulkner constructs suspense by mimicing the southern storyteller’s design of explaining people and events through situation-triggered memories; for this reason, the plot is associative instead of sequential” (3 ). Considering that the story isn’t chronological, the reader learns of Miss Emily’s past simply as a newcomer may hear of the story due to the fact that of the “situation-triggered memories” that arbitrarily occur.

This communicates the style of traditions verses progress due to the fact that the reader may experience the first-impression that Miss Emily gives under the impact of today generation the storyteller holds. Faulkner constantly uses the literary technique of meaning throughout the narrative to compare the distinction in between previous and present. To convey this, Faulkner composes, “later on we stated, ‘Poor Emily’ behind the jalousies as they handed down Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove” (5 ).

Homer’s carriage is considered “glittering” or flashy by the townspeople, but what is probably regular to him, and symbolizes the difference between the town’s old-fashioned attitudes and Homer’s more contemporary ones. The correct etiquette of Miss Emily “with her head held high” explains the standard manners of the Old South whereas Homer’s actions and manners in his buggy represents attitudes of a more modern-day Northerner, conveying the style of traditions verses modernization. At the end of the story, the storyteller states “we saw a long hair of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 7) on the bed where the corpse of Homer lay.

Mosby critiques that “the location of the hair in addition to its color and length recommend a continuing interaction in between Miss Emily and the corpse of Homer, again showing her refusal to acknowledge the finality of death” (4 ). Miss Emily’s hair is a symbol of her refusal to accept death and her cling to custom since the grey color represents conservativeness and her long, unchanged view of death. Meaning is also used when the townspeople refer to Miss Emily as an idol, for she represents the customs of the town.

Faulkner establishes Emily as an idol when he writes, “when Miss Emily Grierson passed away, our whole town went to her funeral: the males through a sort of respectful love for a fallen monolith, the females mostly out of interest to see the within her house” (1 ). William Davis states that, “Miss Emily, who had been idle the majority of her life, is looked upon as an idol by the individuals of Jefferson” (262 ). Emily had actually been decorated as a “monument”, or idol, among the townspeople, symbolizing the traditions that represented the town; and “fallen because she has actually shown herself susceptible to death (and decay) after all” (West 264).

Now that she has actually “fallen”, her death represents the rising of progress over conventional idols. Juxtaposition is used to compare the past and present when contrasting Emily’s old, ugly home to the contemporary environments and setting. Faulkner explains this setting as he writes, “garages and cotton gins had actually trespassed and obliterated even the august names of that community; just Miss Emily’s house was left, raising its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps– an eyesore among eyesores” (1 ).

The quote compares the modern-society, including modern appliances such as cotton gins and fuel pumps, to the “coquettish decay” of Emily’s old house. It also describes how “persistent” and unwilling Emily is to alter tradition. Because all of these modernizations surround and are growing around Emily, it provides the concept of modern society and development overcoming ancient traditions. Faulkner divides the story into five areas that each explains a particular occasion or memory referring to Miss Emily.

In the 4th area of the story, Faulkner talks of Miss Emily, “Hence she passed from generation to generation– dear, unavoidable, impervious, serene, and perverse” (6 ). Critic Davis argues that Faulkner’s use of these five adjectives are “intended to refer to the succeeding sections of the story, each ending up being as it were a sort of metaphorical characterization of the varying states through which the townspeople of Jefferson (and the readers) pass in their examination of Miss Emily” (262 ).

The first and last areas describe Emily’s death while the middle areas are events that happened when she lived. Therefore, her death was referred to as “dear” and “perverse”, discussing how she was a valuable custom as an idol to Jefferson, yet a corrupt deviant for being presumed of Homer’s death. While alive, “inevitable, resistant and relaxing” suggests that Emily was stuck in her own time and reluctant to accept change. Juxtaposition is utilized in this case to compare Miss Emily’s before and after her death.

Before her death, presented in the middle areas, Emily was viewed as reluctant and calm but after she was viewed as an unforgettable figure yet rather wicked. Given that Emily lived her life stuck in the past and resistible to alter, in her death she was viewed as an idol that has actually become devious. Throughout the course of the novel, a returning theme of customs versus development is displayed through William Faulkner’s use of juxtaposition, meaning, and his narrative structure. Time is not meant to be paused in the moment or past, because time keeps progressing, which is ifficult for Emily Grierson to comprehend since it appears as though she is caught in the past. This hesitation for change triggers a dispute in between conventional worths and those of the modern-day generation which strives for progress. Works Cited: Davis, William V. “Another Flower for Faulkner’s Bouquet: Style and Structure in ‘A Rose for Emily'” Notes on Mississippi Writers (1974) 34-8. Rpt. simply put Stories for Students Ed. Tim Akers. Vol. 6. Farmington Hills: The Wind Group, 1999. 261-63. Print.

Mosby, Charmaine Allmon. Masterplots, Fourth Edition. (2010) 1-3. Hackensack: Salem Press. Literary Reference Center. Web. 22 March 2012 West, Ray B. Jr. “Environment and Style in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily'” William Faulkner: Four Decades of Criticism (1973 ): 192-98. Rpt. simply put Stories for Trainees Ed. Tim Akers. Vol. 6. Farmington Hills: The Windstorm Group, 1999. 263-67. Print. Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Xroads. virgina. edu, Charles E. Merrrill releasing business, 1970. Web. 4 March 2012

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