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The Central Idea Of A Rose For Emily

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As life begins to shift or change, people tend to hold on to things or traditions because they are not ready for a change that happens around them. In the story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, the main character Miss Emily shows many signs of her not moving on with modern life and the shift of things around her. She holds on to people, her lifestyle and does not accept the change, while her neighbors feel sorry and sympathy for her stubbornness. “A Rose for Emily” pinpoints to the reader how some people can not accept a change within their environment based off Emily’s home, Emily’s refusal to pay her taxes, and Emily’s denial of her father’s death.

At the beginning of the story, the narrator depicts within the reader’s mind of how Miss Emily’s house looks, describing it as “a big, squarish house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street…; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-…” (page 658). Emily’s house is a simple representation of alienation from the economy’s change. Emily also refused to have metallic numbers affixed to her house when the town receives modern mail service. She becomes afflicted in her own timeless world, trying to hold on to the tradition of how things used to be.

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Another way Emily showed resistance to change would be her refusal to pay her taxes. Later in the story, the narrator explains how Emily’s dad was high in power before the change of the economy and before his death. Her dad had a negotiation with Colonel Sartoris that he was not required to pay any taxes in Jefferson during his time of high power. The narrator quotes Miss Emily continued with that proposition for as long as she could, even after the city authorities sent her a letter to pay her taxes, she even exclaimed to the tax collectors “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me” (page 659). Now Colonel Sartoris been dead over ten years now according to the story, and now the new generation is composed of more modern ideas, meaning that the deal her father and Colonel had is not official anymore. However, she still refused to pay any taxes because she is going based off an old deal that been ended.

Not only could Miss Emily accepts the surrounding change, she could not bear her father’s death. When Emily’s father died, it was as if she lost her safety net because when she was younger, her dad kept her isolated from boys. Emily’s dad was so superior, that any guy was not good for her. Women in the neighborhood prepared to give their condolences, but Emily greeted them at her door, dressed in casual attire with no grief of expression on her face, “she did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body” (page 661). She could not let go of her father and own up to the fact that he was dead.

Throughout the whole story readers can see how Emily was not prepared to let go of her former way of living to move on to better. She was resistant to accept the fact she had to pay taxes, she could not cope with the fact that her lover did not want to settle down, that she killed him and kept his body. She was lost within an old way of living and could not move on with her life. The story pinpoints examples how people cannot cope with the change of life by the way Emily’s house was depicted, her refusal to pay her taxes, and how she copes with her father’s death. In life some things seem hard to let go of to accept the change of course in life.

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The Central Idea Of A Rose For Emily. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“The Central Idea Of A Rose For Emily.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022,
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The Central Idea Of A Rose For Emily [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from:
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