Emily And Miss Emily In Faulkner's A Rose For Emily

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On April 1865 General Lee surrendered his army of Northern Virginia and the American Civil War came to an end. This marked the beginning of the reconstruction era and a time when the northern social structure began to have major influences on southern societies. The South, however, struggled to retain the social structure they took for granted in the Antebellum period. In “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner uses the towns people, Miss Emily, and Miss Emily’s home to show the pervading idealistic society of the old south, within the reformative society of the New South. In this story, readers witness the life of Miss Emily through the eyes of the townspeople, some of which are the very embodiment of Old south ideals. Judge Stevens, the 80-year-old…show more content…
While the city is changing around her, Miss Emily remains stagnant in time and retains the Aristocratic air once held by the “august” names (Faulkner 451). One example of this aristocratic nature is Miss Emily’s use of the “man-servant”, Tobe (Faulkner 452). Slavery was the system that gave the Griersons a sense of hierarchy, and for Miss Emily, Tobe is the last remnant of this lifestyle; even 70 years after the end of the “peculiar system”. Furthermore, Miss Emily’s sense of social hierarchy, and its ability to overcome law and order, is seen as she interacts with the many townspeople of Jefferson. One example, is the interaction between Miss Emily and the druggist, in regards to the arsenic. When purchasing the arsenic, Miss Emily is told “the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for”, and she responds simply by staring at the druggist until he relinquishes the poison (Faulkner 454). Through these multiple interactions, Faulkner shows how Miss Emily acts as the towns last vestige to the Old South and its values. When describing Miss Emily’s life, the narrator states, “she was a tradition, a duty, and a care (Faulkner 451). This shows the town’s inherited obligation to take care of Miss Emily and is due to her father’s status within the south. Again, Faulkner reveals this symbolism when he describes Miss Emily’s…show more content…
Faulkner alludes to this in the first scene when he describes the home and its landscape. He describes the home as it had been in the “lightsome style of the seventies”, then juxtaposes it with its placement in the New South (Faulkner 451); the home, which started as a plantation estate and embodied Old South architecture and lifestyle, is now seen “lifting its stubborn coquettish decay about the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps (Faulkner 451). This shows the long-lasting retention of many aspects of the Old South. It is within this home, that Miss Emily finds a way to hide from the influx of New Southern ideals. Further evidence is provided, when free postal service came to the city, and Miss Emily “refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it” (Faulkner). This is proof of Miss Emily’s longing to stay in the past and seclude herself from any new southern traditions. Another indication of her reluctance to conform, is the home’s caretaker, Tobe. Although the narrator describes him as Miss Emily’s “manservant”, it is clear that Tobe acts, in a sense, as her slave (Faulkner 452): Miss Emily does not answer the door on her own, and it is evident that he does all of her grocery shopping. As a woman from the idealist era, with an aristocratic culture, she has become

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