The Importance of Setting on “a Rose for Emily”

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Faulkner’s details about setting and atmosphere give the reader background as to the values and beliefs of the characters, helping the reader to understand the motivations, actions and reactions of Miss Emily and the rest of the town, and changing the mood or tone in the story. The setting in “A Rose for Emily” is Faulkner’s Jefferson, a small town in the deep south of the United States. Faulkner’s use of this particular time-period of post-civil War is successful in giving the reader an understanding to the values and beliefs of the characters in the story. The town of Jefferson is a fallen legacy. The ranked regime and class system of the Griersons where by order of the mayor- Colonel Sartoris, a Negro woman could not even walk the street without an apron. Grierson residence had changed into a place where even the street on which Miss Emily lived, that had once been the most select, had now been encroached and obliterated, her house an eyesore among eyesores. Both the town and Miss Emily herself, now looked upon Emily as the only remnant of that greater time. This fact gives the reader an understanding of the mindset of the town, who is narrating Miss Emily’s story to us in a form resembling a gossip circle, where stories of various townspeople are pieced together and of Miss Emily, the protagonist who lived alone except for her lone servant. The actions of Miss Emily range from eccentric to absurd but it is the readers understanding of the setting that keep the story believable. Miss Emily becomes reclusive and withdrawn after the death of her father and the distancing from Homer Barron. It is also revealed at the end of the story that she went as far as poisoning Homer, keeping his dead body in his house, and sleeping next to him as well. She is doing what she feels necessary in response to the pressure placed on her by the town. She is still trying to maintain the role of the southern women, dignified and proper while struggling with all the other issues in...
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