Law and Order: Yoknapatawpha County
A key trait to southern gothic fiction is that it often contains a character that is in a state of helpless isolation from the people around them. In the short story “A Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner characterizes Miss Emily Grierson with sexual repression and a psychological state that keeps her mind in the time before the Civil War. This characterization stems from her father, her boyfriend Homer Baron and the town of Jefferson itself, and causes her to resist change at every turn throughout the story.
The foundation for Miss Emily’s resistance to change is her father; Mr. Grierson sexually and emotionally abused his daughter during her childhood, and this traumatized her for the rest of her life. She was horrified by his actions, and made a vow to herself to find a man that would be the polar opposite of her father. While William Faulkner never specifically states that Miss Emily was abused, she shows several characteristic signs of it. When her father first died she refused to acknowledge that it had even occurred, and it took multiple ministers and doctors continuously asking to break her from her trance long enough to bury him. This shows the control that her father had on her, and it also makes the reader question if she had been sleeping with his body as she had to Homer’s. The narrator states “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which robbed her, as people will.” (36,37) This quote is literally talking about her father stealing away any man that had a fancy for her in order to prevent her being stolen away from him. There is a figurative meaning to this quote as well; when Faulkner writes “robbed” he isn’t directly talking about the boyfriends, but more of her being deflowered by him. He was literally blocking the other men in her life because he was worried that the...
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