Before reading Williams Faulkner’s gothic story, I imagined the story a little less on the spooky side. “A Rose for Emily” may as well be able a troubled young woman who was kept inside most of her life until her twenties. Because of her lack of being out in public and not having a suitor, she believed she was above everyone, along with her growing loneliness. After her father passed, there are signs that she maybe be necrophiliac, due to her rejecting her father’s death and leaving him in her home for three days straight. As the story goes on, we see Emily fall in love, kill her lover, and stay with his corpse for forty years until her death. So, what exactly is Faulkner getting at in this story, well we see comments on the conflicts between North and South, complications of a changing world order, and strict social constraints placed on women.
As the story begins, we are brought into a time zone of post-civil war, Emily living in the recovering South. A small town named Jefferson in Mississippi, is where Faulkner chooses to place Ms. Emily. By what the story says many workers from the South are still angry with the North, while the North is sending people over to reconstruct the South. Faulkner brings in this young gentleman that has all three of the hated characteristics in the south being that he is gay, a yankee, and from the North. The young man goes by the name Homer Barron, with him we see how disgusted the south is with the North Because when he begins to hang out with the town bell, Emily, they get furious. An example would be when some townsfolk said, ““Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.” But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige—without calling it noblesse oblige” (Faulkner). The people were saying that there would be no way that Miss Emily would choose a Northern man or even bat an eye to him because she was a much higher class. Instead what the people would do was whisper to themselves saying “Poor Emily” (Faulkner). Every single time she was out with Barron the townspeople would just badmouth her or feel sorry for her because of who he was and where he came from. Instead of the townspeople really dealing with the issue at hand they called in the priest to tell her instead. So, what Faulkner is saying is that even after the Civil War the South was still angry and upset with the North.
As we continue with the story, we see that as time progresses and time is accelerating, the town itself is modernizing, except for Emily’s home. Faulkner made Emily into this time capsule, as time kept progressing, she stayed behind in the past. For example, her house is the main symbol here in the story itself, as in the beginning we see it in a much richer part of town and beautifully kept. At the end of the story, since she did not want to move or change, we see the house old and detreating, next to what is believed is a gas station. Faulkner made it clear that she was stubborn, and change was not in her vocabulary, as we can see in her home itself. Along with the taxes as well “When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice” (Faulkner). As time went by even after Colonel Sartoris had died ten years prior we see that she still refuses to pay her taxes. Due to her still living in the past.
Miss Emily was a stubborn woman but even with that being said, people still treated her in a way different since she was a woman. Faulkner uses endless examples on Emily’s special treatment due to her being a female. The townspeople never confronted her on absolutely anything, not even when her housed reeked of a dead odor. Instead this is what the Judge says about it “will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?” (Faulkner). Instead of telling Emily that her house smelled horrid, they kept quiet since she was a woman and did it for her in the end. We see that Faulkner many times adds in the special treatment towards Emily simply because she is a female. Indicating that at these times, woman we’re basically just there and things were just either done for them or without them.
In all what Faulkner made sure to add in as many bold statements on the North and the South, Modernization, and special treatment towards the woman at the time frame. As we go on, it could be made sense of that he may be mocking this time period on how delusional they were towards certain situations.