Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” contains a wealth of meaning, communicated through various interconnected and somewhat complex themes. At the centre of the story supposedly stands Miss Emily but beyond that the Old South. Indeed, in this story about the interaction between the past and the present, human loneliness and isolation, the search for love and companionship, the escape from the present and the truth, and death versus life, the true protagonist is the Old South, personified in Miss Emily. It is
tenaciously and persistently present throughout “A Rose for Emily,” and stubbornly resists being swept away or cast aside by the New South. Miss Emily is the
personification of the Old South and emerges as a tragic figure, largely because of her inability to interact with the present or to confront reality. The past versus the present is the story of Miss Emily’s life and, as shall be argued in this analysis, her hold on the past and her rejection of the present ultimately condemn her to a life of loneliness and culminate in psychological disorder. The past assumes various symbols in “A Rose for Emily,” with the most predominant being the past as the Old South. As Watkins (1954), a professor of
American literature, argued in his interpretation of this story, “A Rose For Miss Emily” may be interpreted as a narrative about the Old South, a South which has been battered and defeated by the North and by abolition. It is, however, a South which stubbornly and quite illogically insists on clinging to its former glories and, indeed, one which refuses to accept the passage of time or confront the changes which have been wrought upon it. The South is Miss Emily, personified in her refusal to pay taxes and her failure to acknowledge the new reality which surrounds her, culminating in her dismissive
treatment of the town’s authorities and her rejection of the very concept of the mailbox/postal services: “When the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone...
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