A Rose For Emily


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William Faulker’s "A Rose for Emily", is a story told from the viewpoint of a

resident of the town which Emily was, born, raised, and eventually died in. There is a

very dark and ominous feel to this story, which mainly revolves around death. The story

takes place in the south, where at the time, slaves were newly emancipated and things are

taking to quite a change. Even though the Gierson family was very powerful and well

known, nothing could have been done to save Ms. Emily. As generations passed you

could clearly see that the town was undergoing a great change, in which Emily was not

ready for.

As a child, Emily seemed to grew up in the lap of luxury, her father took great

care of her, and wanted the best for his only daughter. Though his love was great, he

seemed almost as a tyrant of Emily’s life. He controlled everything she did, felt no man

was a good suitor for Emily, and probably allowed her no friendships. The Giersons were

cut from a different clothe, and her father wanted to make sure that everyone in town

knew this. This being, the only real contact with the outside world that Emily could

enjoy, was that of which her father dictated to her. This early trauma Emily had to endure

did a great un-justice to her emotionally, crippling her for the rest of her life.

Many doctors will say the most important years of your life, are the early ones. It

is clear that Emily had no real grasp of a family unit, or how it should function. There

was no mother figure spoke of, just her father, which she lived with alone other then

family servants until he died. Upon her father’s death, this early trauma is shown in her

mental and emotional state, or therefore lack of. Her father was her only friend, he was

all she knew in the world, and with out him she almost had nothing to live for. “Being

left alone, and pauper, she had become humanized.” (Page 31) this quote shows that

Emily didn’t have the slightest clue how to survive on her own without her father, but

now she was forced to grow up and get along all by herself.

Soon after her father’s death, townspeople came by to offer condolence to the girl

who had lost the person she really knew. This repression of Emily’s father dying was

bursting at the seems when she proclaimed to them that her father hadn’t died! This

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repression and fear of abandonment go hand in hand with each other, Emily is now left

alone unaware of what to do with herself now that her father or tyrant wasn’t around to

order her around. Soon after she ignored orders to have a proper funeral for her father,

she finally broke down and allowed doctors to come and dispose of the corpse.

Now that her father was gone, Emily, had been protected so much in her earlier

years that this did her a great harm, she was ill prepared for the new generation of the

south’s new booming economy. Soon after her father’s death, Emily fell ill. This kept her

indoors for a long period of time, leaving the town of Jefferson to prosper without her, or

the Gierson legacy. This was most likely a very strenuous time for Emily, left with

nothing but memories of her father. This time was not spoke of in the text, but I feel it a

very important part of Emily’s life history and how she later came to be as an elderly

women.

Again repression, and fear of abandonment play a very strong role in this story.

Emily is now left to put these memories in the back of her head, and go on living out her

life, even as unready as she is. Emily would still show herself in a very Gierson like

fashion, feeling she was above everyone else, and that she needed no help in grieving

with her father’s death. Once again when she was ready, Emily was seen around town,

but not alone, now with a new man in her life.

The south at this time, was very rural, and after the slaves had been emancipated,

it needed to catch up to the north and very quickly. The Gierson Estate was the last of its

kind on the once “select” street on which it was built. New garages, cotton gins, and gas

pumps had been built on the street now, leaving Emily’s home to be seen as an eyesore

among townspeople. “Then the newer generation became the backbone and spirit of the

town.” (Page 33) Townspeople remembered Emily’s great aunt, old lady Wyatt, and how

she had become completely crazy, hoping Emily would not follow in her foot steps. In a

way the town almost was leaving Emily in the dust, with her old traditions and family

believes. But maybe this didn’t seem to bother her, well it was the way she left her home,

covered in dust wasn’t it?

So they left Emily alone in this old run down house, with her memories and

horrors eating away at her mind and soul. Emily was still stuck in the ways of the past,

even when the town’s postal service offered to attach metal numbers and a mailbox to

her home, she refused. Emily finally would return to the streets of Jefferson, and due to

this new economic boom in the town, she was introduced to Homer Barron. He was from

the North, and she the South, right away this would have her father turning over in his

grave. With the strong Southern principles he raised her on, he would be devastated to

find she was courting with a “common” working man of the North. Although the

townspeople were happy for Emily, they knew how high above the Giersons held

themselves above others, and doubted Emily and Homer being together.

But how could Emily actually be in relations with Homer? She never had any

suitor her father allowed. Maybe she was seen around with Homer just to spite her

father’s tyranny over her, knowing how appalled he would be with her choice of a man. It

almost seemed as thing between the two would work, and for once Emily could actually

be happy. Towns people contacted Gierson family members about her relations with a

Northern, and at once they arrived in Jefferson. They were a very proud family and knew

that Emily could do much better than a day laborer. Again a fear of abandonment could

have arose in Emily’s mind, not wanting to loose another man close to her the way she

lost her father.

Homer soon returned to the town, but soon after was never seen again. At this

point there were dramatic changes in Emily’s appearance, and definitely her thought

process. She was a damaged child, and did not know how to handle situations

appropriately. Time passed, and little did we know so did Homer. Emily had killed him.

Maybe she feared being abandoned again, maybe she feared being intimate with Homer?

This we do not know, but from the details explained from her past, Emily had major

unconscious psychoanalytical problems deep within her. Feeling no control over her life

as a child, maybe she felt power in killing Homer, and that she could truly be with him

forever by keeping his body in the house.

At this point Emily’s Id was controlling her daily routines, she had locked off the

upper portion of her home where she kept Homer. Maybe she was trying to lock away

fond memories which brought her the greatest joy. Since nobody had been upstairs in

nearly forty years, this was maybe a place for joy and peace. Homer was the only man

in her life other than her father to bring her happiness. She felt that by keeping his corpse

locked away from everyone else, she really could be with him forever and to preserve

their relationship so they could always be together.

In her own mind Emily was much better off than anyone in town, therefore she

had no superego, only that of the rules that her father put in place for her. She was so out

of touch with the outside world, that from her childhood, she was almost destine for

insanity, and truly nothing could have been done to save Ms Emily. While growing up,

Emily, never had a “real” relationship with anyone so she probably didn’t know how to

approach people. Her father did her the greatest harm anyone could have, he didn’t let

her live her life.

Emily was now left alone, in her old eyesore of a house left to live her days out.

The town now saw her as almost a burden, even though she had her servant to tend to

her, The Gierson Family legacy would soon come to an end. After Emily’s death, the

townspeople were even unaware of it because of the secluded life she came to live hiding

away in her tomb of a house, with her lover a corpse. She seemed to become

schizophrenic in her later years, not being able to tell reality from fiction. Her lack of

being around people, maintaining relationships, and the passing of her father where

probably the main cause of this delusional state of mind Emily was now in.


Her childhood was very rough, not economically, but in morals and structure.

This truly did lead to the demise of her, and my feelings are that nothing really could

have been done to save Ms. Emily. There are many people in this world who believe

they live good lives because of what they own and not by what they do. The Geirson

legacy brought Emily down, before she knew it she was already in an uphill struggle just

to live a “normal” life. But who is one to define a normal life, I cannot answer this, in my

believes though I know that Emily lived far from it. Many people may have rough

upbringing, but it takes only the strong to survive, and from this story it is clear that Ms.

Emily was very unprepared for the long, and tedious life she was forced to live out.


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