A Rose for Emily, a short story by William Faulker, is a timeless classic about a woman trapped in time. Miss Emily Grierson, who will be referred to as Emily, was a beautiful southern belle who never found a husband; her dad also died. These two events caused the traditional southern town to pity her. Luckily, her father was a Colonel, and when he died the mayor decided it was honorable for the town to grant her tax exempt status. Unfortunately, time caught on and the South modernized, giving them free postal service and paved roads. The new generation of townspeople did not approve of Emily’s tax status, and gave her many notices to contact them; she never responded. The only proof that she was still alive was the black man entering and leaving her house with a basket of food. Finally, the authorities confronted her, and she respond, “I have no taxes in Jefferson… Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourself.” After some brief exchanges, her servant Tobe, escorted them out. Later on in the story, the townspeople talk about how she obtains arsenic, simply because the druggist couldn’t say no. From there the townspeople thought she was going to kill herself, and they believed that was for the best. Suddenly she was seen with Homer Barron, an openly gay man, and they believed she would persuade him and marry him. Emily even bought a nightgown and a silver toilet set with, “H.B.” engraved on them. Surely they were to be married, but that wasn’t the case. One night Homer entered her house and was never seen again. Emily was only to be seen a few times after that event, growing older and greyer; her fading beauty was catching up to her age. Eventually, she fell ill and died. The town gave her a proper funeral and buried her. Finally the town can look into the room now one saw for decades, only to find a corpse in the nightgown Emily purchased for Homer Barron.
The traditional South, during the span of the 1800’s, was built on class. After they were defeated in the civil war, Reconstruction shook up their society and pushed them to modernize. The South was stubborn; their older generation held onto their traditional values, while the younger generations pushed toward the modern society, one held together by rumors and lies. Emily became a rumor near the end of her life; she was spoken about, but hardly seen. As a result, she became the town’s gossip, because no one understood her. All the townspeople did know was that they should pity her. Emily was a southern belle without a father or a husband and was defenseless back in late 1800’s because women were raised under the assumption that they would always have a man to take care of them. This understanding forced her to rot in doors for most of her days, with only a servant to keep her company. And as a result, the town could only speculate what had become of her.
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