William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” Literature Analysis

Accepting the inevitable is one of the qualities that help people survive in the mess of the ordinary; otherwise, death will follow and take the life of the one who is unwilling to perceive the changes. However, even though the idea of adapting to the changes in one’s life does seem considerably easy, there are the instances when the further adaptation to the twists and turns of the fate is merely impossible, which the example of Faulkner’s character from A Rose for Emily shows graphically with the help of a number of methods.

Making efficient use of specific details and unusual means, Faulkner displays to the audience that, due to Rose’s unwillingness to accept the unbearable truth, the lead character, a woman considered as a strong personality by many, was bound to carry the burden of a terrible secret and commit a murder. It is evident that it was not only the character development, but also the peculiarities of the descriptions of the environment that helped Faulkner to convey the essence of his novel.

It seems that each line depicting a certain element of the environment that surrounded Emile serves to enhance the frightening effect of the mystery. As if lifting the veil over the secret that Emily possessed, every single line added to the suspense, contrasting sharply with the thrilling curves of the plot.

One of the scenes that provides the most striking contrast of the mystery about the woman and the quiet, sober environment is the scene with the policemen investigating the case of the disappeared, Homer Barron: “They crept quietly across the lawn into the shadow of the locusts that lined in the street” (32).

With the line that closes up the paragraph and makes the image of the atmosphere complete, the effect of the mystery enhances several times: “After a week or two the smell went away” (32). With the help of the tiniest details of the background, Faulkner manages to make the image of the story complete.

Another intriguing element of the novel, the way in which Faulkner depicts Emily herself adds considerably to the understanding of the subplots and the hidden implications. She “carried her head high enough (33)” and, despite the small size, was quite plumb, which made her look rather shapeless. As Faulkner explained,

She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while visitors stated their errand. (30)

Shapeless and seemingly motionless, the woman did add to the impression of despair and unwillingness to change. Being not merely fat, but seemingly obese, she embodied the symbol of desperate time-wasting. Hence, Faulkner managed to create a perfect visual match for the idea of reluctance to change and the wish to lay down and die.

Piercing the entire novel with the feeling of utter despair and the reluctance to find the way out of this pit, the author manages to restore one of the gloomiest affiliates of the underworld that have ever existed – the one where people lose the remnants of hope.

Taking a closer look at the people who surround the protagonist of the novel, one can see distinctly that the shapeless, bland images of people add to the mood of the novel; it seems as if all the characters in the book are slowly drawn into the vortex of indifference. As Faulkner narrates the story, it becomes obvious that the supportive characters make some of the most despicable specimen of the humankind, like the Colonel, who does not even seem to know what he is doing:

Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it. (30)

Therefore, it cannot be doubted that with the help of the specific images and the metaphors that the latter presupposed, Faulkner managed to convey the problem of not being able to cope with the loss and accept the fact of losing something. Miraculously enough, the implications concealed in the elements of the environment that the author depicted did not prevent the storyline from unwinding.

Moreover, it is quite notable that the above-mentioned metaphors not only were comparatively harmless to the process of the characters development, but also contributed to it, thus, allowing the reader to understand the motifs of the lead characters and the atmosphere that the entire novel was shot through. Helping the audience to interpret the story of Rose in their own way, the elements of the house furnishings, the images of Emily and the people surrounding her convey the very essence of the story.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. Eds. Kennedy, Joseph Charles, and Dana Gioia. London, UK: Longman, 2010. 29-35. Print.

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