Isolation: A Rose For Emily
The human being is a social creature who depends on others and cannot live by himself. People depend on each other to achieve that happiness that every human being desires. William Faulkner an American writer wrote a story called “A Rose For Emily” in which he talks about a noble women and how she is isolated from her society. Although Faulkner does not present this idea in a clear sentence that directly indicates that, he implies this idea through the story. Emily is isolated from society due to her father’s insistence that no man in her town was good enough for her and the mental effect this had on her. After her father died Emily met a lover and that lover sexuality leads her to completely shut herself from society. Also due to the big generation gap between her and the new society, she is pushed further into isolation. In this paper, I will analyze and show how Emily isolated herself due to her father’s over protective and negative influence, Homer Barron’s potential homosexuality, and the generation gap between herself and the town people around her. Actions of Emily’s father and his negative influence on her cause her to be isolated and separated from her society. Emily’s father has a high social rank in the society due to him been a Grierson. Her father does not give Emily the independence and sense of self that she needs; therefore, affecting her mental ability to take responsibility and sense of decision. For example he was the one that provides money for the house as the narrator hints “Now she too would know the old thrill and old despair of a penny more or less” (909). As you can see after her father’s death, she needs to provide money because her father was the one providing the family income. Mr. Grierson isolates Emily from her relatives as she has relatives in Alabama but due to her father’s problems with them, all connections are cut this is implied by the narrator with the statement that “she had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy women, and there was no communication between the two families” (910). Mr. Grierson pushed away all the men as the narrator recalled “we remembered all the young men her father had driven away” (909) in the point of view that “none of the young men were quite good enough for miss Emily and such” (909). Therefore even when Emily gets to her thirties, her father denies her a serious relationship with a man: “so when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated” (909). As a result of Mr. Grierson’s belief that no man in town is good enough, he is the only male figure in her life so when her father dies it is a strike for Emily as the pillar and the strong point of her life fell. As McDermott, JOHN A says in his article “Do You Love Mother Norman” “Emily Grierson’s overbearing father forces her to live without love. Although dominated by him in her youth” .Therefore, Emily tries to deny her father’s death and does not accept it because she does not want to be completely isolated. Emily even tells the townspeople “that her father was not dead” (909). Emily continues to deny her father’s death “for three days” , but with the pressure from “ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body” (909) she gives up “just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down”(909). Emily’s father educated Emily in a way that leads her to isolate herself from the society and push people away due to her class position. Homer Barron is the male figure that can prevent Emily’s isolation, but due to his sexuality he leads Emily to a complete isolation. After the death of Emily’s father, Emily needed a male figure to fit into her life due to the fear of being isolated. After her father’s death construction work began in town. Homer Barron is a foreman in this constructions and the narrator described him by calling him a “Yankee- a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face” (910). Barron and Emily started to see each other. Homer is not a man of Emily’s social place, since “a Grierson would not think seriously of a northerner, a day laborer” (910). That shows how desperate Emily was for someone to prevent her from being isolated. Emily needs a male figure to fill the gap that her father left. She needs that due to her dependence on her father her entire life, Emily knows that if that spot is not filled she will be isolated from the society. To Emily, Homer Barron is the light she is looking for to get her out of the hole of isolation she is drowning in. Therefore Emily takes steps to marry this low level man compared to her like Homer Barron. Her intentions are implied when she goes “to the jeweler’s and order[s] a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letter H.B on each piece” (911) and after a few nights “ she bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing” (911). However Homer’s sexuality is a problem for Emily because it prevents the marriage. The narrator implies Homer Barron’s sexuality “Homer himself had remarked he liked men” (911) therefore implying that Homer is gay. The narrator hints at Homer Barron’s sexuality again as he says “she will still persuade him yet” (911). Here, the narrator indicates that Homer is homosexual and Emily will persuade him from that. Homers sexuality is a big argument with critics but most of them indicate that he is gay as Judith Caesar says “the phrases “he liked men” (429) and “he was not the marrying kind” (429), both of which they assume are code phrases meaning that Homer was homosexual. In fact, James Wallace, arguing against the interpretation of Homer as gay, suggests himself that the narrator is, indeed, implying that Homer is homosexual (107) (…..). Therefore as Homer turns out to be a homosexual Emily loses the male figure she needs which leads her to a total isolation.
In addition, the generation gap between Emily and the new generation leads Emily to be isolated. The narrator gives a lot of symbols that show that Emily is from an old generation and there is a big gap. For instance his description of her house “it was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white…set on what had once been our most select street” (907) here, the narrator shows how her house is old and the street is no longer the most “select street”(907). In addition, he implies that no one from the new generation would believe the tax story Colonel Sartoris’ made up as the narrator said “ Only a man of Colonel Sartoris generation and thought could have invented it, and a woman could have believed it”(907). That shows the gap of thought between the two generations. Also when Emily replies to the mayor the narrator uses symbols that indicate the generation gap “a note on a paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to effect that she no longer went out” (907) both the words “archaic shape” and “faded ink” are symbols of old. As research shows that there is a gap between Emily and the new generations that leads to conflict between them as Harris, Paul A. says “the tale involves the conﬂicts between generations and cultural traditions”. For Example when the new generation takes over the town “newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town” (912) and tries to make changes Emily isolates herself from them and refuses any kind of change. For instance, she refused to let them put a new mail box in her house “when the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it” (912). Emily isolates herself in her house from the new generation as the narrator implies “knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons” (907) this shows that Emily has not had any communication with the town people in a long time, therefore leading her to isolation. Due to the big generation gap between Emily and her new society she refuses it and isolates herself from it. In conclusion, Emily was isolated from her society initially her father which influenced her mentally by educating her that she was noble and no man in town is good enough for her and also by pushing every man that tried to ask for her had or even approach her. Second Homer Barron that was gay which led her to kill him and completely shut herself from society. Last the big generation gap between her and her society which led her to refuse every new idea and change; therefore isolating herself from them.
Harris, Paul A. "In Search Of Dead Time: Faulkner's "A Rose For Emily." Kronoscope 7.2 (2007): 169-183. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Apr. 2014 McDermott, JOHN A. "“Do You Love Mother, Norman?”: Faulkner's “A Rose For Emily” And Metalious's Peyton Place As Sources For Robert Bloch's Psycho." Journal Of Popular Culture 40.3 (2007): 454-467. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Caesar, Judith. "Faulkner's Gay Homer, Once More." Explicator 68.3 (2010): 195-198. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.