Death and Decay of the Southern Ideal
In William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" the reader is introduced to the small, post-civil war town, of Jefferson, Mississippi. Jefferson, while fictional, embodies the erosion of Southern ideals and beliefs dating back to pre-civil war Mississippi. The encroachment of the New South is echoed in the mussing of the narrator, who represents the community of Jefferson as he reminisces about the central character in the story, Miss. Emily Grierson. The story, while not told in chronological order, takes place over several generations. "A Rose for Emily", like so many of Faulkner's other works, has a central theme found with the conflict between the old and new, in his home state of Mississippi. Miss Emily embodies the spirit of the Old South and all it's majesty, while the town and its inhabitants symbolize the loosing battle of those beliefs to "new ideals". Faulkner parallels the decaying grandeur of the Old South to the New South through the symbolic decay of Miss Emily, her house and her Negro servant, Toby.
A story of the south is never complete without visions scenic gardens, ladies in white dresses or swings found on the front porches of large white plantation homes with stately columns. The reader can gather through the story that the Grierson home once stood as the idyllic picture of a southern palace, where the aristocracy of the South lived. "It was a big squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street." (29)
The earliest picture we have of Emily is that of a young girl in white standing in the background to the only man in her life, her father. According to Diane Roberts, "The Confederate Woman became a sacred invocation of the South's "epic" (meaning white aristocratic) past." (103) Faulkner portrays Emily as pure by placing her in white and then...
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