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Critiquing "a Rose for Emily"

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How different can two human beings be?

A gruesome tale of two completely different personalities and their struggles to move forward into the future tends to be more than what's expected. In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," it becomes a struggle for both Emily and Homer Barron to live a socially normal life. Miss Emily Grierson lives in isolation and loneliness. She is a melancholic person who slowly loses her mind throughout her life. She experienced a rather unconventional upbringing. There is no mention of her mother, therefore her father is her whole world. It is perceived that her father is rich and he has convinced Miss Emily that, "none of the young men were quite good enough," for her. After her father dies, it is mentioned in so many words that Miss Emily starts to break down mentally, "She told them that her father was not dead. 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." She's portrayed as always being defiant in personality but becomes reclusive, unpredictable, lonely and unstable.

Homer Barron is a huge influence in Miss Emily's life described as "...a Yankee--a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face." He arrived to town as a foreman to repair Jefferson's sidewalks. It appears that Homer and Miss Emily become friends spending Sunday afternoons together. However, Miss Emily seems to have fallen in love with him and it is viewed that the feeling wasn't mutual from Homer for "...he was not a marrying man." Homer is a free spirit and doesn't follow traditional standards such as courting, marriage and raising a family. He looked towards the future to better himself. Her father would never have approved such a man for his daughter. Maybe this is partially why she becomes obsessed with Homer. Miss Emily shows more mental insanity when she purchases "the best" arsenic on the market from her local druggist. Soon after, Homer Barron is seen no more. This is left up to interpretation of the reader as to what exactly happened to Homer. In the story, it's not clear how he disappeared. It's not until the end of the story the reader finds out Homer has been killed and left in the upstairs bedroom. Miss Emily has the mentality that Homer "belonged" to her and they would never be separated again. Her perception is she always got what she wanted however, she is stuck in the past and simply can't move forward in life. Her future thinking stopped when her father died.

Symbolism plays a major role among the storyline. The title itself is ironic "A Rose for Emily" for there is no mention of a rose. During those days, when a rose was presented to a woman, it was a sign of love or lust. Miss Emily seemed to think of Homer as her "rose"



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