The Role of Time in "A Rose for Emily"

Essay by nickcat33College, UndergraduateB+, November 2007

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Benjamin Franklin once said, "You may delay, but time will not." This quote defines the character Miss. Emily Grierson in "A Rose for Emily" written by William Faulkner. The time and chronology sets up the story's theme for passage of time. Time is everything and it is evidenced by Miss. Emily Grierson's physical, mental, and political surroundings.

Miss. Emily Grierson grew up in Jefferson, Mississippi. Her father was a confederate soldier and a successful business man. The time was set around the 1890's, so this was not to long after the Civil War. The town of Jefferson was small at the time and Colonel Sartoris, the mayor, made all the decisions for the town. Also, African Americans were still servants in homes at this time. Unfortunately for Miss. Emily, time was moving on and she refused to accept it. Emily's father passes on, and she has trouble accepting his death.

At this point time stops for Miss. Emily. Physically she has trouble dealing with the future, so she remains like everything is normal and does not move forward with her life. She refuses to give up the body and let him be buried. Emily tells everyone he is fine, when the town's people come over to give their condolences. In the story the narrators' state, "The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolences …. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days…" (94). Time was physically taking its tole on Miss. Emily; however, she could not face it. Another example is her house, when she was in her twenties her home was a nice white plantation style home. The house was well kempt and had beautiful gardens, but when she got...