October 24, 2008
“A Rose for Emily”: Insanity, Murder and Death
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, is a short story telling the life of Emily Grierson Throughout the story, Emily progresses from being a young “slender figure in white” (82) to, after her father’s death, having short hair that made “her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows-sort of tragic and serene” (83), and finally looking “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue” (81) with “her hair…turning…pepper-and-salt iron-gray” (85). Emily eventually becomes a recluse, living and sleeping with the dead body of Homer Baron. Emily clings to the past and refuses to allow her world to change. It is this perception of reality that ultimately leads to Emily’s insanity, the murder of Homer Baron, and finally her death.
The taxes on Emily’s house are a perfect example of Emily’s perception of reality and living in the past. She repeatedly tells the “deputation” (81) that comes to visit her regarding her taxes to “see Colonel Sartoris…I have no taxes in Jefferson” (81). How could any person in her right mind believe that she did not owe any property taxes when “Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years” (81)? Emily continues to believe she does not owe any taxes even though she receives tax notices year after year all the way up to her death. She also does not allow the post office to “fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it…when the town (gets) free postal delivery” (85). This refusal clearly proves that Emily will not change with the progression of times. One of the signs that Emily refuses to let go of the past and has a distorted perception of reality, is what transpires in the days after her father’s death. “The day after his death…the ladies” (83) of town decide to pay Emily a visit to pay their “condolence and (offer) aid”...