Character Analysis Of Emily In Rose For Emily Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Literature - American Type: Essay Paper: #53953014
Excerpt from Essay :

Emily through the eyes of the townspeople, who narrate William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily." The townspeople's understanding of Emily is limited by prevailing norms and values: as a mysterious and almost antisocial woman, Emily subverts gender norms and roles in the traditional Southern community. Emily never marries, although she is rejected by two men. Her fear of abandonment is the only identifiable aspect of Emily's character, as her abandonment issues are made clear relatively early in the story: "After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all," (Faulkner II). The final straw for Emily, what set her over the edge into committing a murder-suicide, was Homer Barron. Barron is described in terms almost as ambiguous as Emily herself. He is a Yankee -- a northerner -- and it may be that he was both a person of color and gay too. He is described as a "a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face," suggesting that he may have at least been of mixed race or African-American, from a free state in the North. (Faulkner III). If indeed Homer Barron was black, Emily's subversion of Southern social norms would have been striking. Furthermore, it is also implied that Homer Barron is openly gay, as "he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men," (Faulkner, IV). Homer admits to not being a "marrying man," further evidence that he was likely gay, the main reason for his rejection of Emily's sexual advances and her desire to marry him (Faulkner IV). Unable to deal with the pain and humiliation of being spurned yet again, and feeling perhaps like a fool, Emily decides to kill both Homer and herself.



Her character is unapologetic, a mainstay of society and yet self-centered and self-absorbed, contributing nothing to the community. Like slavery, Emily plays no legitimate or real role in her town, yet the townspeople cannot escape her presence. When she dies, the town is rid of the last vestiges of a dying age yet still need to contend with the bitter aftermath of the institution of slavery: symbolized by death and the pitiful clinging to life. Emily was, in life and death, a "hereditary obligation upon the town," (Faulkner I). Emily's character does not change throughout the story, just as the nature of slavery never did change. Only her physical appearance -- superficial and external things like her hair color and her weight -- change as she ages. Like the enduring presence of racism in the South, Emily's personality does not change.

Although she represents a dying age, Emily usurps traditional gender norms in Southern society by refusing to marry. Her lack of interest in settling down with a husband cannot be viewed as a conscious decision, as she seems to love Homer Barron and does try to get married not once, but twice. When it turns out that Homer Barron is not interested in…

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