A Rose for Emily - Changing Traditions

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Alexandra Cumberland
Mrs. Kohlmaier
English II PreAP, Period 1
4/17/2012
Changing Traditions
Ancient buildings, historical monuments, and even people are traditional examples which help shape and influence a city. Traditions are an essential role in maintaining a city’s history, but when people are reluctant to change the past, there is a struggle for development. William Faulkner’s use of symbolism, narrative structure, and juxtaposition help convey the theme of traditions against progress in “A Rose for Emily”.

Narrative structure, such as chronology and the story’s point-of-view, is used by Faulkner to express the overall theme of traditions against progress. The story is told by an unnamed first-person narrator which represents the whole town of Jefferson. Faulkner’s use of this first-person perspective story telling is effective in helping the reader understand the attitudes of the townspeople towards Miss Emily. The narrator in the story states, “we did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. 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 had robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner 3). In this quote, Faulkner constantly uses the pronoun “we” to combine the thoughts of the townspeople into a single narrative voice. This technique is used to help the reader understand Emily from their perspective and the struggle for them to change her traditions. Faulkner also does not tell this narrative in chronological order. Critique Charmaine Mosby states that “Faulkner builds suspense by imitating the southern storyteller’s style of describing people and events through situation-triggered memories; hence, the plot is associative rather than chronological” (3). Since the story isn’t chronological, the reader learns of Miss Emily’s past just as a newcomer might hear of the story because of the “situation-triggered memories” that randomly occur. This conveys...
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