“It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson…Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town…” (34).
“A Rose for Emily” is a short story by William Faulkner, which follows the protagonist’s life and death. The story begins with a first-person account of the Miss Emily’s funeral. It then continues with the narrators recollections of Emily’s deranged behavior and her life in Jefferson. Emily is from an old southern aristocratic family, and is living in the past. This quotation appears near the beginning of the story when the narrator describes Emily’s funeral and history in the town. It conveys one of Faulkner’s main themes, the foundering of tradition in the face of modern changes, Emily’s house as a major symbol, and the symbolism of her mental decay.
A fundamental theme, resistance to modern change, is conveyed in this passage. Through the protagonist Emily Grierson, the author illustrates the challenge of trying to maintain tradition in the face of radical, modern change. The town of Jefferson is conflicted between embracing a more contemporary culture, while still staying true to the past. This idea is portrayed in the faded description of the Grierson home: “But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the