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Friday, May 4, 2012

A Rose for Emily

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In one respect, I tend to agree with Fetterley and Rogers interpretation of Emily’s triumph over the endless pounding of patriarchy in William Faulkners “A Rose for Emily”. I find myself stuck in a similar situation; like Emily, I perceive a patriarchal situation by trying to pen what I believe my instructor wants me to write. I have avoided writing a paper on this very story by dropping two previous classes that assigned a critical paper for this short fiction. I am repulsed by the very thought that this short fiction can be classified as creditable literature. I have decided against my usual course of action and choose to write what I feel concerning this short fiction regardless of the outcome. It seems I will never finish my education at Antelope Valley Community College without addressing this repulsive story.


Faulkner beautifully illustrates the morbid parallelism between Emily’s father and the house that imprisoned her. Both were controlled and manipulated by the very being that would eventually destroy them. Faulkner strategically places the home of the Grierson’s, on what was once consider a prestigious street in the crumbling, overcrowded town of Jefferson. Here, both monuments of the past are forced to maintain a dignified fa├žade of sanity among an ever-changing society. There are two interpretations to be made in understanding the motive and meaning behind Emily murdering Homer Barron, in “A Rose for Emily”. The first motive deals with the personal revenge Emily seeks towards her father, the second being towards the town of Jefferson who scrutinized her and critically analyzed everything she did.


The death of Emily’s father set in motion a diabolically evil scheme to seek the ultimate revenge on the patriarchal society of Jefferson, which controlled and ultimately claimed her sanity. Her revenge began with her father whom she hated for denying her the privilege of having a normal and successful woman’s life. Emily’s hatred began to fester within the depths of her soul as a young child, dominated by a father who concluded that no male figure was good enough to inherit the status of courting or marrying a Grierson. Emily became emotionally tormented by the very thought of being a spinster and having no other male figure to love, besides her controlling father. The growing resentment continued as she became older and perspective suitor’s appeared at the front door, ultimately to be chased away with a horsewhip. “Although the violence is apparently outward-the upraised horsewhip against the would be suitor- the real object of it is the woman-daughter, forced into the background and dominated by the phallic figure of the spraddled father whose back is turned on her and who prevents her from getting out at the same time that he prevents them, suitors, from getting in.” (Pp 560). Emily was a caged animal, imprisoned by her controlling father, in a circus whose master manipulates all of the animals’ movements, emotions, and physical appearance by a carefully illustrated system of rewards and punishments. Emily’s’ rewards, according to her father, was that she be portrayed to the towns people as “a slender figure in white” too pure for the stains of any human being to corrupt what he, the father, masterfully created. Emily’s’ punishment was that she would eventually be revered as an untouchable figure whose every action or movement would be analyzed by the town of Jefferson.


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It wasn’t until that fateful day, the death of her father, when Emily was finally able to outwardly express her revenge upon the very first male who suppressed her emotionally and physically, by not giving him the proper burial a Grierson deserved. Instead, she was able to experience, first hand, the feeling of triumph over watching her so-called beloved father rot before her very eyes, the sweet revenge of a twisted character. Emily cleverly denied to the town’s people that her father died in order to secretly express her future intention of revenge towards the town of Jefferson by not letting them, the residents, immediately dispose of his decrypted and decaying body. “ She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the minister calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.”(Par. 7) “Because she is Miss Emily Grierson, the town invests her with that communal significance which makes her the object of their obsession and subject of their incessant scrutiny...the town is able to impose a particular code of behavior and to see her in failure to live up to that code an excuse for interfering in her life.” (Pp.560) The result of the towns interfering adds fuel to her fire to seek the revenge for interfering in her life and being so critical of every movement that she makes.


The most significant diabolically evil plan Emily sought was the revenge on the patriarchy society of Jefferson, which no one would be able to comprehend the magnitude of the murder of Homer Barron. After the death of her father, the townsmen felt pity for her and claimed that leaving her the decrypted, decaying housing structure was a way of knocking her off the pedestal and becoming more humanized. The patriarchal society outwardly expressed their need to watch over and care for the lonely spinster who they concluded incapable of providing for her financially. Colonel Satoris, the eldest patriarch of Jefferson, fabricated a story to justify why the town remitted her taxes, claiming that it was from a financial loan her father provided for the town many years ago.


The motive for the murder of Homer Barron was for Emily, on her deathbed, to gain the last laugh at a town who scrutinized and critiqued her yet never came to understand why she acted and lived as she did. Another motive for the murder of Homer Barron was to prove to the patriarchal society of Jefferson that even though she, Emily, could not “ persuade him to marry her” (Pp. 55) due to his perversions, she may still succeed in controlling Homer if her were dead. No one would be able to take that secret love she had for Homer away even though he would never reciprocate it t the same way because of his alternative lifestyle. Homo Homer was an embarrassment to Emily, because for the first time ever she was free love some one, and he turned out to love young men more than women. This humanizes Emily even more and in turn it helps explode the decades of manipulation and control she receive at the hands of her father. She had a perfect plan; no one in the town of Jefferson would ever believe that Emily, being a real lady “ to forget noblesse oblige�without calling it noblesse oblige” (Pp. 55). “Emily is exempted from general indictment because she is a real lady-that is, eccentric, slightly crazy, obsolete, a “stubborn and coquettish decay”, absurd but indulged; “dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse”; indeed, anything and everything but human.” (Pp.561). Who would believe she would have murdered some one in order to have their love.


“A Rose for Emily” is taken from a morbidly crepitated point of view where an author obviously is hiding many deep dark secrets within his past without bluntly coming out and exposing it to the rest of society. Faulkner disguises his own tragedies from his past through the story to give himself a sense of personal release from his own personal bondage. “A Rose for Emily” is utilized as a cleaver way for William Faulkner to disguise his own slide from sanity.


This short fiction falls very short of what good literature should be. Good literature follows a plot that is easily and logically understood by the reader and does not find it necessary to jump from past, recent past, to future, and in-between to make the story interesting. Good literature has a distinctive purpose; keeping the reader glued to the pages in-between the cover, keeping the reader interested in other genres of literature to enhance their interest in the wealth of written knowledge. Good literature expands the imagination by allowing the reader to see the world around them in new ways other than the norm, which does not necessarily mean making them sick from a morbid point of view. Good literature does not leave the reader with an upset stomach and a disgusting taste in their mouth for all literature. Thankfully, Vicodin and Motrin 800 have helped me make it through this short fiction paper.


Work Cited


Fauklner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Norton Introduction to Literature 8 Edition. New York W.W. Norton & Co.001. 51-58.


Fetterly, Judith. “A Rose, ‘ A Rose for Emily.’ “ The Norton Introduction to Literature 8 Edition. New York W.W. Norton & Co 001. 558-564.


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