Symbolism in a Rose for Emily

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A Rose for Emily: Symbolism

Symbolism can be used in many ways. In A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner uses symbolism to further develop Emily Grierson as a person, and not as just a character in a short story. Some of these symbols include the townspeople, her father, her gold watch, and the negro. These symbols allow William Faulkner to reveal underlying themes through these symbols. The townspeople in A Rose for Emily, symbolize the change of times. Emily still believes that she lives in the old times, and that are taxes are still being swept under the rug. There is no proof of this so the townspeople wish to reinstate her taxes, but she refuses to recognize this change. This symbolizes her refusal to accept the fact that times are changing. Emily is unable to cope with the changes. “On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came, and there was no reply.” (30) The Negro also symbolizes the “Old South.” He has vowed loyalty to Ms. Emily, and has to serve her until her death. He sees all and knows all, but would not dare betray Ms. Emily’s trust in him. Emily’s father is another symbol in this story. Her father represents all men. He might have beat her as a young girl or sexually abused her in keeping all of the young suitors out of the picture. When her father dies Emily refuses to give up the body of her dead father. This reveals her love and dedication to her father. (Perhaps she kills him, but William Faulkner does not say.) She was clinging to her father, because that was the only “love” she had ever known. Emily then searches for a man to fill the father figure void. Homer Baron steps in as the masculine role of father. Homer Baron deserts Emily, “the streets had been finished some time since—was gone.”(34) Emily does not handle the loss of Homer well. She finds him when he returns to town. The townspeople believe that Homer marries Emily, but she kills him. Now nothing can take Homer away from her. Her lifetime love is to be...
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