A rose for Emily Unit essay


Arose for Emily


The short story “A rose for Emily” by William Faulkner narratesthe life and times of the late Emily Grierson and how the entire townmourned her death. Though the story is relatively short, it isdivided into five sections that all seem to address social issues ina gothic atmosphere relevant to the 1930’s American society. Themain focus of his story is to demonstrate a changing world, genderrelations, aristocracy, and the place of women in society. Mostimportantly, the story captures social changes in terms of genderrelations, the place of women, aristocracy and even sexuality asmodernization set in.

To start with, the place of women is society as shown through Emilyis that they were considered the weaker sex. Women are depicted assecond class citizens to men in regards to taxation and governance,and making decisions. In such a patriarchal society, men madedecisions for women and some women such as Emily suffered greatlyfrom such decisions and control by men (Werlock 2009). For instance,in the case of 30 years ago, Emily had to lay back as her fatherchose suitors for her. The man rejected many suitors as he believedthat none was fit to marry his daughter. As such, the societyexpected women to lay low as men made decisions even those concerningthe women.

The same is repeated when the local men override Emily’s decisionsand orders that lime be sprinkled around the Grierson’s home tofight the odor emanating from her house. Although this might beviewed as being considerate of her mourning state and avoidance ofmaking direct accusations about the odor from the family house, it isnot acceptable that they even broke part of her house just becausethey could not ask. In fact, men treated women as delicatecreatures, weak enough that they could not take the truth.

However, there is positive change in the place of women as the storyprogresses given that the story covers different periods of time. Thedifferent periods capture the social changes that have taken placeover the years. At first, the author allows his readers to see Emilyas a young girl attracting young suitors and in a society where womenare not allowed to make decisions and in another instance many yearslater where women are more empowered in making decisions. As timeshave changed, Emily is keen to make decisions of her own and evendefies men and specifically members of the Board of Aldermen whovisit her to demand her to resume paying taxes. She dismisses them bysaying “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained itto me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records andsatisfy yourselves.&quot (Faulkner 1930). Again, after the death ofher father, Emily is less aware of her social obligations inrespecting class hierarchy. She starts dating Hommer Baron who is ofa lower social status than her and in the process unsettles people ofthe town.

As if that is not enough, there is the social change clear in theacceptance of homosexuality in society. Most traditional societieswere not openly receptive to homosexuality though it might haveexisted (Volpe 2004). However, in section four it is clear thatHommer had made clear to women that he liked men through the womenhad previously expected Hommer to marry Emily. This marks themodernization of society where choices of sexuality are respected andeven recognized in law.

In all considerations, it is clear that there are major changes thatthe Faulkner intends to communicate besides telling the story of onewoman who was barred by tradition settling down and marrying to starta family just because his father found no worthy suitor. Again, thereis the issue of women making decisions over time and overcoming theirsuppressed status in society. As such, Faulker succeeds in presentingthe theme of social change, changing gender relations and the placeof women in society to reflect the 1930’s period when he firstpublished the story.


Faulkner, W. (1930).A rose for Emily.

Volpe, E. (2004). Areader`s guide to William Faulkner: the short stories. New York:Syracuse

University Press

Werlock, A. (2009).Companion to literature: facts on file companion to the Americanshort

story. NewYork. Infobase.