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A Rose for Emily: Themes

Category A Rose for Emily
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Faulkners A rose for Emily: the narration

The narrator in this short story is an omniscent one, endowed with the ability of inner view into the minds of his characters. He echoes the words, thoughts and suspicions of an entire small-town community, and he seems to be fully acquainted with its ways. He is someone from the inside, someone who probably lives in the community. Although he never gives up his identity he establishes himself as someone who is familiar with poeple's thoughts, with the history and legends, with individuals like Colonel Sartoris and even with the interior of Miss Emily's house.

theme for a rose for emily

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He is to that extent omniscious that he refers to himself as we so that it seem as if the town itself were the narrator of the story. In either way we do not pay attention to whom the narrator is, but what matters is that we can perceive the town as one coherent entity which has one common opinion about the only two individuals in the story Miss Emily and Tobe the only two who live isolated and do not obbey the rules of the crowd.

In the second version of A Rose for Emily the narrative coherence is well kept as the only point of view we get and the only narrative voice we hear is that of the town. The gossips and legends become the basis of our knowledge. We believe what the town believes. For instance, when we read: So the next day we all said, She will kill herself; and we said it would be the best thing. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, She will marry him. Then we said, She will persuade him yet, because Homer himself had remarked he liked men, and it was known that he liked younger me in the Elks Club that he was not a marrying man. Later we said Poor Emily behind the jalousies as they passed on Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his head cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.

For this reason, the second point of view, given in the first version, ruins the poetics of the story and creates a confusion of narrative voices. By stepping into Miss Emily's house and thoughts, the narrator assumes more liberty and inner view power than he should. He is and intruder just like the people who were snooping around her house, the four men that broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings.

The narrator switches from the reporting to the quotation method, from one point of view to the other, from gossips to facts so he consequently loses his credibility. By gaining access into Miss Emily and Tobe's private life and by giving a counter-attack to the town's gossips, the narrator shatters the coherence of the crowd the town as one strong and uniform entity, which moves, thinks and speaks together. Individual identities are irrelevant and for this reason the narrator never uses his narrator's slant, but drowns instead his voice into one omniscient we. On the other hand, we as readers are no more interested in facts and truth, but by identifying ourselves with the prevailing opinion of the town, we decide to lend our ears to gossips.

In the second version of the story, the two controversial characters Tobe and Emily are exclusively described on the basis of their physical aspect and their actions:

Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been plumpness in other was obesity in her. She looked bloated as a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.

She is only a projection of what people said, believed, suspected or over-heard from one another. She is a tradition, a duty and a care; a sort of a hereditary obligation upon the town a legend which passed from generation to generation dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil and perverse. She is just a reflection, a hologram, so she is often associated with supernatural creatures angels and idols. She is someone who can be only looked at, admired and talked about, but never talked to or touched:

As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of and idol.

When we saw her again, her hair was cur short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows sort of tragic ad serene.

By eliminating the town mediation as the only source of our knowledge and as filter in communication, the narrator breaks the rules of traditional narration once more. He generously but foolishly, bestows a third dimension on Emily and Tobe, by giving them their own words and thoughts. This kind of individual voice is in opposition with the voice of the town : Hah, she said. Then they can. Let them go up there and see what's in that room. Fools. Satisfy their minds that I am crazy. Do you think I am?

We suddenly get to know what miss Emily or Tobe thought or wanted. It is not only irrelevant and superfluous that Tobe, for instance, has always wanted to go to Chicago, but it also destroys their uniqueness and credibility as characters. Their description becomes superficial. Tobe is no more a mysterious guardian of Miss Emily's temple, or a mediator between this and some other world, but instead, just a tired, old Negro, whose dreams never came true: when miss Emily asks him the reason why he wants to go there he says:

So I can set on that hill in the sun all day and watch them train pass. See them at night too, with the engine puffing and lights in all the windows.

We later on know that the Negro met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed, sibilant voices and their quick, curious glances and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was never seen again.

Miss Emily, on the other hand, is no more a tradition, a duty and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, or an idol in a niche, but only an old, indifferent and probably crazy woman. The narrator, by announcing the presence of something strange in miss Emily's house, ruins the final surprise.

There was no need for us to enter that room before the town people, so we feel like intruders he has placed us among the crowd and we were supposed to stay there. He breaks the spell around Miss Emily's life and around the secret room, which he has been building on the previous pages.

The second and final version of the short story A Rose for Emily wins on its quality by dropping out the dialogue of Emily and Tobe, included in the first version. This scene threatened to ruin the narrative coherence and the poetics of the text as well as the final suprise.

A Rose for Emily: Themes essay

Related Questions

on A Rose for Emily: Themes

What is the mood of "a rose for Emily"?

The mood of the story is melancholy, ominous, and eerie. Additionally, what is the meaning of the rose in A Rose for Emily? The rose from the title symbolizes this absent love. It symbolizes the roses and flowers that Emily never received, the lovers that overlooked her.

What is the moral lesson of a rose for Emily?

What is the moral lesson of A Rose for Emily? One moral of this story is that we don't see the world properly when we view it through rose colored glasses. This town was able to ignore Emily's oddities because they viewed her through rose colored glasses. When Emily's father died there were signs that she was going crazy.

What does the Rose in a rose for Emily symbolize?

The rose represents the idea of love since young lovers often give each other roses to express their affections. With so many suitors in her youth, it seems inevitable that Emily will accept a rose from one of them, but she never does. When she meets Homer, it seems like she may finally have true love.

What are the Gothic elements in a rose for Emily?

Southern Gothic Themes in ''A Rose for Emily''Decay. Emily Grierson's house is an old, heavily ornamental Victorian home that seems out of place in the early modern times in which the narrative is set.Racism. Psychological Imbalance. Uncertainty, Alienation, and Isolation.

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