"A Rose for Emily" -Characterization

Essay by BAMBIXHigh School, 12th gradeA-, March 2006

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William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" uses the character Emily Grierson to show contrast between the past and present, specifically of her life as it was, in the town of Jefferson, located somewhere in the southern United States.

The narrator begins with the funeral of Emily. Miss Emily is referred to as a "fallen monument" (ARE 531, NIL). This indicates to us that Emily represented what was left of the prominent Grierson name, long time, and upstanding citizens in the town of Jefferson. She was the ideal of past values but fallen, because of her passing.

Emily is the product of an earlier era and surrounds herself with reminders of the past. After the death of her father, his crayon portrait is given prominence in her house and is hung above her coffin upon her death.

The image of Emily trying to hold back the encroachment of new generations is shown in the description of her house, which is of a traditional style mansion, of southern well-to-do families, despite being surrounded by newer buildings.

Faulkner writes: "Only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn coquettish decay about the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps" (ARE 532, NIL). Her home was an eyesore amongst the newer, yet different buildings in her neighborhood.

A description of her home "the house smells of dust and disuse-a close, dank smell" (ARE 532, NIL) and a description of Emily in relation to her home is disclosed by the narrator "She looked bloated like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that palled hue (ARE 532, NIL). We can see the comparison of the two and find they are closely related.

Emily did not always have a drab-used appearance. In the crayon picture Emily with her father, which hung in...