“The Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

The story A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner is composed of five parts. It talks of a woman, Emily, who grows up with a dictatorial father and very little chances to express herself in the family setting. She also has very little freedom. She grows up with very little chances of getting a suitor even in her prime age since her father, who thought very highly of his family, shunned off every man who came to ask for Emily’s hand in marriage saying that they were all not good enough. She relieves many memories in her life and has very many imaginations and hopes of getting a better life than the one she has. Memory is the main aspect and theme in the story and it holds Emily’s every thought and dream until her last day of life.

The story begins as the narrator uses memory to give the story of Emily’s death. Emily’s lifestyle as evidenced by the setting is a memoir by itself as it has persisted over various generations yet still hold strong within the town. Within the given description, it stands as a still life photograph, stilled within the modern setting and therefore filled with memory as all portraits do. The structure is crudely created in a plain box frame with floral adornments that pride of the seventies architecture. Additionally, the building’s foundation lies within the town’s old streets that had prided the occupants due to their magnificence and therefore a preservation of the memories attached to the avenue. The author mentions that the house also preserved the August names within the regions probably in reference to the names accorded to the ancient streets that once were passing through the location. Unlike the other modern structures, Emily’s residence was devoid of the postal box for communication purposes. The memory of the house and the various elements attached to it serves as the town’s points in connection with the past periods that were hard to forget (Stevens 86).

The setting is intimately linked with Emily as noted within the narrative by the fact that any individual would identify it by the owner upon sighting. Interestingly, although the structure dated as early as the period 1894 its style persisted nearly a century after to the seventies. Additionally, generations that rose within the given duration identified the building as Emily’s abode although most of them may not have physically met her due to the imprisoned lifestyle that she perpetuated. This fact is important as it accentuates the significance of oral literature as an important element within the preservation of a community and identity against the altering periods. Residents that had been able to interact with Emily during her young and youthful stages, as notably presented by the narrator hold the house and its setting as a reminiscence symbol mainly due to the identity that it reminds them. This can be noted by the nostalgic definition of the lost avenues in a possessive manner that refers to them as ‘our’ as an indication of identity (Stevens 86).

The author therefore employs the setting as a motif for identity and thereby enlightening the reader to the reason why the town residents including the town leaders find it as a difficult task in destruction of the house as it would mean annihilating their sense of identity. The value of the house is succinctly reflected by the fact that upon Emily’s demise the whole town assembles at the structure with the females being more curious about its contents (Stevens 93). The plot within the narrative is intermittent in nature and therefore employs a switching approach that employs the merging of the past events with the present through the inclusion of flashbacks. For instance, the opening involves the present period with the need for a flashback towards an in-depth comprehension of Emily’s life. This is followed by the tax incident that bears a closer proximity to the demise period as compared to the dating instance. This approach is employed as a reflection of Emily’s yearning towards living within the earlier period. The plot is also utilized as a symbol of mixed reminiscence that the protagonist is fond.

Note that, a good illustration of this is the preservation of her father’s photograph, her demised lover and Colonel Sartoris’ memory that maintain her recollection ability to the past, although to the rest of the characters the plot is within the present period. An ironic tone is mainly maintained within the publication to enhance the clashes within the protagonist and the town residents between the present and past lifestyles. For Emily and her townspeople, the past and the present together with the entire concept of time are relative. The past to them is not a glimmer that is faint but rather a realm that is ever present and highly idealized. Memory is also seen when Emily creates a bridal chamber that she wants to hold time and prevent reality and change. In preserving the memory of a happy time in her life, she goes to the extent of taking a human life.

Memory is also seen as the author’s delivery method of the time concept; and how the same is employed in a bid to achieve various mixed perspectives within the narrative. This is seen where the story is written out of flashbacks from the author. These flashbacks are spread out over decades. The whole story comes from the memory of the narrator. The story begins when a description of Emily’s funeral is described and then to the not so distant past of that period. The end of the story is also from memory where the funeral of Emily is described by the author as if he was at the scene. This starts with the unsealing of the bedroom door to expose Emily’s wedding room. Memory is also seen in the story where it creates the effect of the ability of the past and the present to coexist through the persona Emily. In her characterization, Emily holds together the past and the present and creates a link between them by holding on to her past and acting as a reminder to the society of their memories of the past.

Through his memories, the author is also able to create a world that has several dimensions that fit together perfectly to relay the story. Time is also a major thing associated to the memories of the narrator (Stevens 102). Through his memories, Faulkner describes two separate visions of time. He creates one vision where time is based on the objectivity of reality. Here time assumes a relentless forward movement and anything that has passed is gone and stays in the past. Here only the present is seen as being in existence. The other vision of time is seen as one that is subjected to memory. Here, memory also holds strong since time moves forward but the events always linger close by. The events are seen not to stay in their distant but rather memory exists without any hindrances. The memories stay active and alive regardless of the level of change obtained or the amount of time that passes. This is most common on the case of Emily.

In conclusion, therefore, memory is used as a theme in many instances of the story. Memory is seen in the bid of the town to fight against change. The town is seen to be at a point of crossroads where they want to embrace a better and more modern future and at the same time, their memories are so etched in the past. Two examples of their attachment to the past are the Grierson’s home and the town’s civil war cemetery. Emily is also seen as a tradition and a memory by herself since she resists change and stays the same over the years. This is despite the many changes that occur around her. Emily acts as a memory to the past and represents the traditions that the people wish to honor and respect. At the same time, she is a burden to the society’s memories, as she is a constant reminder of how they have been cut off from the rest of the world.



Works Cited

Stevens, James. Short Prose for Critical Readers. New York, NY: Kendall Hunt Pub Co, 2010. Print.

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