The Strength of Emily Grierson
In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” Faulkner creates a well-built and forceful character in Emily Grierson. A woman with a sense of arrogance and belief in her family and time honored traditions. Faulkner writes” sort of a hereditary obligation”. (702) Emily’s life unfolds before us through the eyes of an unknown narrator. While Emily holds to her traditions and her strength, she suffers from an abnormal view of the world. For Miss Emily Grierson time has stopped, she lives for the most part in the past. Life has dealt her some malicious blows, causing her to become a recluse, bordering on insanity, which in turn eventually drives her to commit murder. Emily gives an awareness of her strength throughout most of the story. When the men came to collect her taxes, Emily portrayed the very pillar of strength. “So she vanquished them horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell” (703). She also reflects strength when the men are creeping around about her home, sprinkling her yard with lime. Miss Emily sat in the window “the light behind her and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol” (704). White 2
Miss Emily projects strength on the outside to shield her from the world, around her that has changed significantly. Emily’s character portrays her profound respect and reliance on the past and her ancestry. Emily Grierson came from an old southern family, steeped in tradition. Outside Emily’s protected atmosphere the town continues to change and evolve. Miss Emily remains the same, relying on the past to dictate the way she should act. When Homer Barron, the man who worked for the city, becomes involved in Miss Emily’s world, she seemingly tries to persuade him to stay with her. When she was threatened with desertion and disgrace, she took refuge in her own little world and took Homer with her in the only manner possible-death. As far as the town’s people were concerned Emily...
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