"A Rose for Emily" Symbolism

Topics: Symbol, Meaning of life, Linguistics Pages: 3 (965 words) Published: November 1, 2010
“A Rose for Emily” Symbolism
In “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner symbolism is used throughout the entire story. A symbol “in literature [is], a person, place, or thing that suggests more than its literal meaning” (Kennedy 223). William Faulkner used symbolism constantly in many of his stories, so he was very familiar with creating symbols and giving them meanings that the wanted the readers to understand. There is a main symbol and then there are some symbols that are still important to the story, even though they are not the main symbols. Without these smaller symbols this story would not have the same meaning. Two important symbols that stuck out to me are the rose and “the long strand of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 35). In real life a rose represents love (or sometimes, even “I am sorry”), but in this story the rose represents Miss Emily’s love for Homer Barron and that she would do anything to be with him for the rest of her life.

While reading “A Rose for Emily,” I encountered many symbols. The two symbols that stuck out to me the most were the rose and Miss Emily’s hair. The first symbol is encountered when reading the title, “A Rose for Emily.” The rose symbolizes love, the love Miss Emily has for Homer Barron. Another symbol that really made an impression on me was Miss Emily’s “long strand of iron-gray hair,” (Faulkner 35) which represents time. The narrator states: “Already we knew that there was one room in the region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced” (Faulkner 35). If this room had not been seen in forty years and had to be forced open, how is it possible for a gray strand of hair to be on a pillow next to Homer Barron’s body, when Miss Emily’s hair was not gray forty years before that?

When the narrator stated, “And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron” (Faulkner 34), it became very clear what the symbol of the rose meant. Without this statement or without any statement about...

Cited: Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Longman, 2010. 29-35. Print.
Kennedy X.J. and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introdudction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. New York: Longman, 2010. 223. Print.
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