In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, the author uses the element of time and history to tell the story of Emily Grierson. Emily, the main character, attempts to resist the progression of time and modernization in the American south during the post-civil war era. Emily s struggle of transition from old south to new south values is portrayed in a unique story-telling style. Faulkner uses many symbolic meanings associated with Emily, in relation to time and history, to decipher and interpret Emily s life.
He also manipulates his story by offering key incidents out of chronological order. The author s use of these techniques is particularly effective in bestowing his perception of Emily upon his readers. Faulkner begins to foreshadow Emily s character by describing her house; he associates the symbolic use of Emily s house to that of her own character. Faulkner first describes the house as stubborn and coquettish and an eyesore among eyesores.
This description gives the reader the impression that Emily s house, much like Emily, was a burden. The word coquettish suggests the shyness of Emily and her attempt to shut out the rest of the town. Faulkner s statement about the house it smelled of dust and disuse reinforces the link between Emily and her house. The fact that Emily never maintained her house and refused to post a mailbox and an address shows her struggle with modernization. Inside the walls of this stubborn and coquettish home, lives a woman struggling with the progression of time.
As the town progresses and modernizes, Miss Emily s house remains persistent, much like Emily herself. Miss Emily is described as a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Faulkner effectively uses symbols within this description to paint a more vivid picture of Emily to the reader. Traditionally, in the old south people wore black while they were grieving the death of a loved one. The color black, in reference to Emily s description, can be symbolically interpreted as Emily s unwillingness to accept her father s death. The cane Emily uses is a symbol of her physical weakness.
Faulkner imposes the picture of a frail woman by describing how she leaned on the cane. The mystery of the descending gold chain is then revealed; Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain. This invisible ticking symbolizes Emily s reluctance to observe the passing of time as generations succeed each other. Faulkner s use of intertwining symbols with the physical description allows the reader to develop their own perception of Emily. Emily s reluctance to change is symbolized by her refusal to pay delinquent taxes.
When the representatives of her town waited on her concerning her taxes, she declared that she had no taxes in Jefferson. Emily based this belief on a verbal declaration made by Colonel Satoris. The Colonel s declaration had been pitted against modernization. This caused Emily to react see Colonel Satoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson. The Colonel had already been dead for ten years, but Emily refused to acknowledge his death.
The refusal to acknowledge the Colonel s death symbolizes Emily s failure to accept the progression of time. As well as ignoring the Colonel s death, Emily tried to ignore Homer s and her father s. The reaction to these deaths is almost child-like. When children lose a loved one, these children try to convince themselves that the deceased is not dead. In a sense the child attempts to stop time. Much like the child, Emily attempts to put a halt on time.
Emily s refusal to accept the fact that things change as time progresses is symbolized through her reaction to these deaths. The very old men-some in their brushed Confederate uniforms-on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression. This quotation strengthens Faulkner s ability to symbolize not only Emily s struggle with time, but also the struggle all seniors experience with the progression of time. William Faulkner manipulated this story to keep the reader from imposing judgement. Faulkner manipulated this story by offering key incidents out of chronological order. The story first starts with Emily s funeral.
At the funeral, Faulkner describes the attitudes of the men at the funeral towards Emily; respectful affection for a fallen monument. This excerpt serves to give the reader a discriminating first glimpse of Emily s characteristics. His style of writing can be linked to Quentin Tarantino, one of today s great movie directors. Tarantino used this same style in two of his blockbuster hits, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.
Much like Tarantino, Faulkner arranged his story like pieces of a puzzle. He only revealed the pieces he wanted you to see, when he wanted you to see them. This finished puzzle then subjects the reader to dissect and interpret Emily s life the way he wanted you to see it. Emily was a fallen monument of Southern aristocracy. She was a product of an earlier era and seemed to surround herself with constant reminders of the past.
Faulkner s effective use of symbols in the story allowed the reader to develop their own perceptions of Emily. He used symbols associated with time, history and progression to describe Emily s ancient-like characteristics, as well as fundamental incidents. The details of the story are revealed slowly and out of chronological order to build a sense of suspicion before the killing of Homer Baron is climaxed. After we are introduced to these symbolic meanings of Emily s life, then we can begin to properly analyze Emily s motives.