William Faulkner, a famous American writer, wrote Rose for Emily, a short story in 1930. The actions take place in an imaginary town in the South of the US. The story tells about mysterious Emily Grierson, the main character, and her life in the first decades after the Civil War between the North and the South and the slavery abolition. At the very beginning of the story, she was buried. The story about her fate is told by other inhabitants of that town.
We learn about Emily’s tragic fate only by rumors, involuntarily wondering who that woman was in fact. Rumors and prejudices played a huge role in Emily’s life. It is a kind of relic, a fossil, which the town cherished, and this woman was in the captivity of the role imposed on her first by her father and by the rest of the townspeople then. While the whole country was moving forward, Emily was forced to maintain her reputation and live like a fossil in her family home. It is not by chance that Emily, whose family was so recently keeping plantations and slaves, fell in love with Homer, a hard worker who obviously symbolized the developed industry of the North. A small but important piece of American history is reflected in this love story.
When Miss Grierson died, all population of the town went to her funeral. Some people came with feelings of respect and sympathy, but most were burned with curiosity and with a desire to visit her house where any human stepped foot for dozens of years. When Emily was alive and lived alone, city councilors visited her mansion to convince her to pay taxes. They saw a small, fat woman wearing black, with a thin gold chain, leaning against the ebony cane with a stained gold head. Her neighbors also complained over the unpleasant smells from Emily’s house spreading the entire district. But city council members respectfully refused to talk with Emily about this, not willing to blame the lady for anything. Earlier, when her father died, Emily was not able to admit that her father was not alive anymore and she did not allow anyone to take his body for burial for several days. One day, Emily visited a city pharmacist to ask him for some poison. Due to the common respect for her social position, the pharmacist finally sold Emily illegally. After Emily’s funeral, the townspeople entered the upper room of her mansion that was locked for many years. The room was covered with very fine dust and they found there a faded corpse in the bed, obviously belonged to Homer, Emily’s boyfriend. Near the skeleton, on the cushion was a long strand of the gray hair – Emily’s hair, with no doubt.
Although this is not a perfect match, the description of the woman was pretty close to the black widow spider, killing her male partner. Something brings a kind of the respectful pity for Miss Emily, at least from the readers, if not from the townspeople, as well. Faulkner creates a contradictory image of the main character. Emily is like an idol, a monument to the beautiful past, the indestructible monument of past days. Who is she really? Is she a killer, living corpse or a monster? The idol of the whole city, a strong woman apparently lived alone for forty years. Only at the end of this terrible story, we find out that Emily did not live alone – she slept with the decaying corpse of her lover, whom she killed forty years ago because he had been going to leave her.
In A Rose for Emily, Faulkner repeatedly uses and resolving conflicts to show the townspeople’s respectful affection to Emily. People of the town loved Emily, they want to help her. But is this what they really want? Their talks and their desires are very accurately psychologically captured by the author. They respected Emily and were afraid of her as of a ghost of the past. She was so high above them and she was always a winner. These people were not able to win a single duel with Emily, she always defeated them. People did not let her be happy with Homer, but she denied them, as she denied the time and death. Emily simply wanted to live a happy life, but she had to imprison herself for many years and became mad sleeping with her fiancé, whom she had killed.