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Alienation and Isolation in William Falukner's "A Rose for Emily"

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Alienation and Isolation in William Falukner's "A Rose for Emily"

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  • March 6, 2002
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Alienation and Isolation in William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"

William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" displays themes of alienation and isolation. Emily Grierson's own father is found to be the root of many of her problems. Faulkner writes Emily's character as one who is isolated from the people of her town. Her isolation from society and alienation from love is what ultimately drives her to madness.

Emily's isolation is evident because after the men that cared about her deserted her, either by death or simply leaving her, she hid from society and didn't allow anyone to get close to her. Miss Emily is afraid to confront reality. She seems to live in a sort of fantasy world where death has no meaning. Emily refuses to accept or recognize the death of her father, and the fact that the world around her is changing.

Emily attempts to recapture her past by escaping from the present. She wants to leave the present and go back to a happier past. Miss Emily wants to find the love she once knew. "After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all" (243). Emily alienates herself from everyone when the two people she has loved most in her life go away. She becomes afraid to grow close to anyone in fear of losing them again.

Miss Emily's isolation is able to benefit her as well. She has the entire town believing she is a frail and weak woman, but she is very strong indeed. Everyone is convinced that she could not even hurt a fly, but instead she is capable a horrible crime, murder. Miss Emily's actions range from eccentric to absurd. After the death of her father, and the estrangement from the Yankee, Homer Barron, she becomes reclusive and introverted. The reader can find that Miss Emily did what was necessary to keep her secret from the town. "Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years" (247). "The man...