Using the historical critical reading strategy, an analysis shows why and how women cope with loneliness and life in the early 1800’s and the present. In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” Faulkner shows the life of the character Emily dealing with life and loneliness which is in some ways can be different and the same in some areas from how women deal with these issues today. Emily shakes up the town with her unwillingness to comply with changes and upgrades as the town tries to become current with the times. Although times have changed tremendously from the 1800’s, there are still some people today that still embrace that type of behavior and still deny change. Emily meets and dates a man that caused issues with the town in the process and causes a dilemma in the towns-people and society views. Emily chose to overcome her loneliness in her own way but; however, no one knew how far she would take it to do so.
In the beginning of William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, the author acknowledges that Emily has passed away and the entire town has attended the funeral. Faulkner starts out explaining that Emily was a very closed woman who only had a relationship with her father. Emily was a young woman so close to her father that she was dominated by his strict values. Emily’s relationship with her father affected her relationship with the town-people, especially men. Many men that tried to call upon Emily, but her father denied them the right of doing so. She ends up lonely and alone when he passes away. “We trace her struggles with personal grief, a restricted social life, socio-economic decline, and romantic misfortune, a long history of trauma and repression” (Argiro, 2011). When Emily’s father died, because he was the only person she ever had in her life, therefore, she found it hard to let go. The town-people came to her requesting her to please release his body for burial; however, she kept telling them her father was not dead. She made them wait three days before she would finally allow the town to obtain the body and they did a quick burial. She was described as having iron gray hair and after her father dies, she cuts it and is described as looking like a little girl. It is obvious Emily is having a hard time with her loneliness due to her father being the only person she had in her life. In this present time, some of the behaviors Emily exhibited are still common today; however, it has not been reported that a person has held on to the corpse of a deceased parent because they did not want to be lonely. Often there are times where women experience being lonely because they are unable to find or have a successful relationship due to the relationship or non-existed relationship she had with her father. Where Emily cut off her hair, there are women today that have done worse things to their body because of their loneliness and their inability to handle it. Although today there are many resources to help women to cope with the loss of a love one or being alone, some just choose not to accept it. These women believe they are strong enough to handle their problems on their own. Strong women give the impression to have a larger reason of their own intervention, and a positive disposition: she believes things will improve, and she is able to assist in making this a reality. “Resilience, paradoxically, is an attribute that may be harder to acquire in societies where many everyday risks have been greatly lessened” (Reeves, 2006).
People from the Alderman’s office approached Emily one day after several notices had been sent regarding her taxes. Emily told the people that there were no taxes and that they needed to deal with her father regarding those matters. They explained to Emily that her father had been dead for over 10 years and that would be impossible. Emily refused to deal with them any longer and summoned for her “Negro” to come and escort them out of the house. Emily rejected complying with the Alderman’s office and the Sheriff’s office as well (Meyers). She refused to answer or reply to any of many letters that had been sent to her regarding the taxes. The townspeople also complained of a smell coming from the home. “When neighbors complained of the stench issuing from her house, a judge refused to make a public issue of it since one does not “accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad’” (Dilworth, 254). Emily’s behavior is peculiar and points toward the mysterious. Her stubbornness extends from running off the town’s city representatives by refusing to pay her taxes to declining to let them attach metal numbers above the door of her home and connecting a mailbox to it (Argiro). Emily’s behavior was derived from the objective and strict behavior of her father. Now that he has passed, she still remains in that shell. “Americans have a lot of attitude about grief; what doesn’t work the them is labeled “morbid,” “macabre,” or “weird’” (Matthews, 129, 2002). Each time a town official would go to Emily’s home regarding the taxes she owed, Emily was rude, would not talk to them, and had the “Negro” escort them to the door. In Emily’s case, “Similarly, women’s way of thinking and knowing are subjected to dominator values which discredit both women’s intellectual capacities and coerce women to shape their way of knowing into dominator acceptable modes” (Morris, 576). She was so dominated by her father’s orders for so long, she knew nothing but dominance. Today some of that behavior still exists, especially in older people. Regardless of how much society grows and changes, there are some people not willing to advance with world and accept the change. This is certainly most true with older people. No matter how much the world evolves, the want to continue living the lives they were taught.
The town-people whispered and constantly talked about Emily a lot. The town was starting to advance and began construction on the sidewalks. The head of the workers is a man named Homer Baron. Throughout her lifetime Emily’s father never allowed her to become involved with anyone. Therefore, because of this she rebels by becoming involved with a man she knew her father would never approve. Many fathers these days don’t have control over who their daughters marry, nor do the daughter allow their fathers to influence their decision. Some fathers want to meet and get to know his daughters intended, especially if they are talking marriage. This happens often in the south. Emily takes an interest in Homer, the Northerner labor worker supervisor. She knows this would upset her father if he was still alive, but she dates him anyway to ease her loneliness. The towns-people are concerned and elated that Emily would date a “Yankee”. That was just not done in those days. After Emily and Homer start dating “the ladies in the town and her cousins from Alabama work to sabotage her relationship with Homer” (Akers, 2002). They were unsuccessful at their plot and Emily and Homer continued to see each other. They could be seen riding around town in a little yellow-wheeled buggy on Sundays. Most of the town was upset that she would even consider dating a Northerner, but at the same time, some were happy that she had someone in her life. Emily and Homer saw so much of each other that she began telling people that they were getting married. “Yet Homer’s role in Emily’s life warrants questions about who and what he really is and whether his intensions are genuine, since by his own admission, “He was not a marrying man’” (Argiro, 446, 2011).
Emily ends up marrying Homer and Homer goes into the home and is never seen by anyone again. Each time anyone from the town visits, she refuses to talk to them and has them escorted out the door. The only person the towns-people ever seen coming and going from the home was black helper going to and from the market. As reported, in the beginning, several of the neighbors reported a smell coming from the home. Because the judge refused to do anything about the smell the neighbors took it among themselves to do something about it. Eventually the smell went away, so the neighbors assumed what they did worked. After Emily died and after the funeral, a couple of the ladies from the town went to the home. The black helper was there and directed them to a door of a room. The ladies went inside the room and were stunned at what they saw. In the bed was a corpse that looked as if it had been there for a long time. The corpse is believed to be the remains of Homer Baron. In the story it mentions Emily going to the hardware store to purchase arsenic. The clerk was supposed to ask Emily the reason for the purchase, but never did. As the women moved closer to the body, they noticed a single gray hair on the pillow. Emily had been alone all her life because of her father’s denial to allow her to be with anyone else. According to (Aker) “Emily takes the offensive by poisoning Homer, so he can’t abandon her” (2002). “Not only is it generally assumed that she killed Homer but that she slept next to the deteriorating body every night for decades” (Sniderman, 2007). “Women today represent wounded healers. ’Suppressed and yet embodied in all women are the very life-giving, sustaining, and transformational forces which the dominator culture fears” (Morris, 577, 1995). There have been cases of women killing men because they wanted to leave them, but never of a woman keeping the man’s corpse in fear of being alone.
In conclusion, Emily was a young woman so close to her father that she was dominated by his strict values. It is obvious Emily is having a hard time with her loneliness due to her father being the only person she had in her life. In this present time, some of the behaviors Emily exhibited are still common today. Emily rejected complying with the Alderman’s office and the Sheriff’s office as well (Meyers). Today some of that behavior still exists, especially in older people. Regardless of how much society grows and changes, there are some people not willing to advance with world and accept the change. Emily rebels by becoming involved with a man she knew her father would never approve. Many fathers these days don’t have control over who their daughters marry, nor do the daughter allow their fathers to influence their decision. After Emily’s funeral a couple of the town’s ladies were directed by the black servant to a room. Once inside the were stunned at what they saw. In the bed was a corpse that looked as if it had been there for a long time which is believed to the remains of Homer Baron. According to (Aker) “Emily takes the offensive by poisoning Homer, so he can’t abandon her” (2002). There have been cases of women killing men because they wanted to leave them, but never of a woman keeping the man’s corpse in fear of being alone.
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