Decay In William Faulkner's A Rose For Emily

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Falling to Pieces: Decay in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” In “A Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner uses the protagonist Emily Grierson as a manifestation of decay. Being the victim of her father’s selfishness as well as the town’s rumours, poor Emily’s condition gradually deteriorates until nothing is left. One by one her hopes and dreams are suppressed and then eradicated entirely. During this process, Grierson struggles to cope with the conflicts of her heart, of her family, and of society. Unable to deal with adversity, “she [breaks] all the laws of of her tradition, her background, and…finally [breaks] the law of God too” (Faulkner 103). Her extremist methods in handling her grief as well as her adamancy in resisting change both…show more content…
When she is finally seen by the townspeople, she is fat with her hair graying, indicating the final stages in her process of decay. Having suffered the loss of her father as well as her love, Emily becomes reclusive and more stubborn than ever, insisting that she has no taxes in Jefferson and commanding the aldermen to see Colonel Sartoris. The very fact that the colonel has been dead for ten years indicates both Emily’s insistence to stay in the past and her decaying mind as she can no longer keep track of current events. She is broken down and beyond repair. Being aware of her state of affairs, the people of Jefferson allow Emily to spend the rest of her days in seclusion; however, little do they know that she is happy to be left alone in her home where she spends her nights with her lover, or rather his corpse. Emily fully embodies herself as decay not only through her degenerating state but also by literally surrounding herself with it as she lies with the corpse of Homer Barron every night in the dust-filled room decked with wedding ornaments and attire. Like its owner, the Grierson home, “an eyesore among eyesores,” erodes with age as it “lifts its stubborn and conquettish decay” (Faulker 95), refusing to admit its faded upper-class social standing. In addition, isolating herself in this home inevitably affects Emily as her environment consists only of dust, a corpse, and “a doddering Negro man” (Faulkner 100). Without any real life and companionship present, this isolation serves to only worsen Miss Grierson’s desolate condition. Unable to cope with the difficulties in her life, Emily Grierson is gradually driven to madness as “her father’s actions leave her with little money and no husband at a spinster age, arguably the cause for Emily’s determination to hold on to Homer at any cost” (Binder 6). Life is a struggle against entropy, and rather than opposing the collapse,
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