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Stubborn Miss Emily

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  • April 10, 2012
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Stubborn Miss Emily
What can you do with a person who is stubborn to a fault? In "A Rose for Emily," author William Faulkner shows that the townspeople come to pity Miss Emily, the stubborn, unchanging main character in this classic short story. Miss Emily, a spinster whose father abjured every possible suitor, is an individual who cannot changer her prideful stubbornness. Faulkner uses several different methods to show this, such as descriptions of Miss Emily's house, changes in the town that occur over time while Miss Emily lives there, and her relationships with close people, such as her father and Homer, to give the reader a better understanding of Miss Emily's lack of ability to change.

One of the simplest ways to see the way Faulkner characterized Miss Emily is to compare her with the description of her house. Miss Emily's house is described as "big and squarish…. lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above… [the town]--an eyesore among eyesores." The adjectives "big" and "squarish" serve to communicate a picture of Miss Emily. Several paragraphs into the story, when Miss Emily is visited by the townsmen who want to collect taxes on her house, she is described as a fat ("big), short ("squarish") woman. Her house is stubborn in that it stays standing in the midst of change around it, never changing itself, while Miss Emily is stubborn in other ways, such as refusing to discuss the taxes issue with the leaders of the town. She repeatedly says to them, "See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson." Both Miss Emily and her house are old-fashioned. Her house is described as "coquettish," which is an old-fashioned word used to describe an old-fashioned house, and not much used in modern language. It is also decaying. Miss Emily shows herself to be old-fashioned in her way of dressing--black dress-- and in the use of everyday items such as her stationary, which is described as "archaic." Miss Emily's decay is not only shown in the change her hair...