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A Rose for Emily

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A Rose for Emily The chilling tale of “A Rose for Emily,” is not one that is forgotten easily. “A Rose for Emily,” was William Faulkner’s first attempt at a short story and was written in 1931. This morbid tale recounts the tragic life of Emily Grierson. Faulkner’s southern upbringing, the Great Depression, and the Civil War have significantly impacted the story and paralleled with the resistance to change in the South. Faulkner was born in 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi. Faulkner’s family was a once-wealthy family of plantation owners who lost its influence in the Civil War (Meyer 83). Faulkner’s own loss of influence is a direct parallel to Miss Emily whose own family has also lost their money and influence. The loss of influence can be seen when the order, by Colonel Sartoris, that Emily did not have to pay taxes is rescinded by the new generation. Emily refuses to pay any taxes on the town stating that they “See Colonel Sartotis,” who has been dead for ten years. This shows her determined mindset that the status quo will not change. Faulkner also used his own history in “A Rose for Emily.” Faulkner assimilated aspects of his family and upbringing into his writing. He grew up listening to stories and myths of the region, and of the life of his great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, who served as the inspiration for Colonel Sartoris (eNotes). The character Emily was also based on a family member, his cousin, Mary Louise Neilson, who married a northern street paver named Jack Barron (eNotes). Faulkner also incorporated some of his own personality into Miss Emily, mostly his own eccentricity. At the University of Mississippi he was called “Count No Count,” for his arrogant, vain and aloof mannerisms. Emily is also seen as eccentric due to her lack of marriage and reclusive nature. Also, like Emily, he was frowned upon in his own hometown. The town saw Miss Emily as “a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town dating from the day Colonel Sartoris remitted her taxes,” (Meyer 84). Contrary to the beginning of the sentence they did not like Miss Emily; they only saw her as an obligation, a debt. The historical climate surrounding “A Rose for Emily,” also had a significant impact on the story. Faulkner was born twenty years after the end of the Reconstruction, but the South was still deeply affected by the war and it shone through his writing. Miss Emily is a “monument” of the past to the towns people. She is a living testament to the Civil War having been born either before or during the War. The small town beings to gossip when Homer Barron and Miss Emily start a courtship saying that she “…would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer…grief could not cause a lady to forget noblesse oblige,” (Meyer 86).

Works Cited
"A Rose For Emily." eNotes. Gale Cengage, 2012. Web. 19 Jul 2012. .
Meyer, Michael. The Compact Bedfor Introduction to Literature. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2012. 83-91. Print.

Cited: "A Rose For Emily." eNotes. Gale Cengage, 2012. Web. 19 Jul 2012. . Meyer, Michael. The Compact Bedfor Introduction to Literature. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2012. 83-91. Print.

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