There are lots and lots of great stories about love and hate, power of death and thirst for life, people’s fate and will to change the real state of things. However, there are only a few books, not to say only one, which are the most memorable and precious to our hearts. Usually, I come across such masterpieces by chance and, in the long run, cannot forget them. It was already five years ago that I picked a little book with a red cover called “A Rose for Emily” from a library shelf. Is it due to its dramatic setting that William Faulkner created, its main idea and its symbolism, its charming characters, or, maybe, all the three mentioned above, but this story still lives in my memory, evoking overwhelming feelings of admiration and delight.
The story is set in the country seat of imaginary Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi Country, with its inhabitants adjusting to the post-Civil War life. The author depicts the main character, Emily Grierson, in the southern part of this country - the town of Jefferson – in late 1800s and early 1990s. This city is involved, though indirectly, in the life of Emily Grierson. Citizens watched her every single move, discussed her every single action and wondered why she did certain deeds. The city with its inhabitants became her analyst. People had their own views on who she was and who she was not. In addition, they had their own idea of whom they wanted her to be – a true member of aristocratic Grierson family that her father headed. Town is portrayed as character in this story, as we come to understand Emily by what people of this town think of her. Actually, it can be easily understood because the narrator, in fact, is a citizen of this town as well. To my mind, by providing the story with such a setting, the author wanted to show how much influence the setting/environment has on the person’s life. The way it changes one’s thoughts and deeds is unbelievable. And it is shown on Emily’s example – she did horrible things and townspeople got what they wanted.
The main idea of Faulkner’s short story was to show the struggle between preserving family traditions and accepting change. The main heroine herself is a tradition of the past, which people wish to respect and honor. However, at the same time being totally cut off from the outside world, she is the greatest burden and the eccentricity that other people around her cannot understand. In order to fully express these themes the author used symbols very frequently. In my opinion, the most vivid of them are: the rose, Miss Emily’s house, taxes and black color. It is quite obvious from the story that rose symbolizes the love that was never felt; it is a symbol of flowers that Emily never received. It is a symbol of the lovers Emily never happened to love. Emily house is another important symbol in this story. To my mind, it represents money and absolute power, both loving and tyrannical. The taxes and black colors I see as symbols of death. However, they can also stand for financial and moral decline of that period.
The main characters seem strikingly colorful and believable to me, which makes the story even more compelling. Emily, an only child in her family, at her thirty-something is already a murderer. It is the most unfortunate and heartbreaking character of the story. However, the reader’s attraction to her is driven by pity rather than love. Her example shows how much we want to be loved and how much this desire can twist and damage our life. One more interesting character of this story is Emily’s father – a very selfish man in even more selfish society. The author himself did not approve of Emily’s father at all. It is a person who loves himself so much that everything around stops being important. Undoubtedly, the most mystical person in this story is Homer Barron, the man Emily murders. From the story it becomes obvious that he was not really friendly and kind man. It is hard to find anything pleasant to say about that guy, but no matter whatever he did and whoever he was, he deserves the compassion…
The majority of us desire to fit in the social norm no matter high the cost is. Nobody wants to be the outcasts of the society or totally different from others. Society does not like those who do not fit in and meet the standards of this society. However, it does not mean that we have to pay with our or somebody else’s lives to be accepted… It has been long ago that I read and reread “A Rose for Emily” last time. However, it is engraved on my memory so much that I will never forget it. The main idea of the story is the best food for thought that the reading can give us, isn’t it?