Rose for Emily.”
intangible qualities of the characters, places, and events in their works. In
social standing, and her reluctancy to accept change.
When compared chronologically, the Grierson house is used to symbolize
Miss Emily’s physical attributes. In its prime, the Grierson house is described
as “white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the
suggests that the house was built not only for function, but also to impress and
the era, Emily Grierson not withstanding, were dressed in a conspicuous manner.
This, for the most part, is because their appearance was perceived as a direct
strongly ornamental, just as their overly lavish home was. As the plot
progresses, the reader is clearly made aware of the physical decline of both the
house and Miss Emily. Just as the house is described as “smelling of dust and
disuse,” evidence of Emily’s own aging is given when her voice in similarly said
to be “harsh, and rusty, as if from disuse” (70-74). Ultimately, at the time of
Emily’s death, the house is seen by the townspeople as “an eyesore among
eyesores,” and Miss Emily is regarded as a “fallen monument” (69). Both are
empty, and lifeless. Neither are even remotely representative of their former
Just as their physical characteristics, Faulkner uses the Grierson house
was “big,” and “squarish,” and located on Jefferson’s “most select street” (69).
This description gives the reader the impression that the residence was not only
seemingly impervious to the petty problems of the common people. The members of
the Grierson family, especially Emily, were also considered to be strong and
powerful. The townspeople regarded them as regal. And Emily, as the last
living Grierson, came to symbolize her family’s, and possibly the entire south’s,
was rumored that she was left no money, only the house, in her father’s will.
reputation in the public eye. And, perhaps inevitably, the prestige and
desirability of the Grierson house fell right along side Miss Emily’s
Perhaps the most significant comparison occurs when the Grierson house
is used to symbolize Emily Grierson’s unwillingness to accept change. Emily
occurred when representatives were sent to her home to collect her delinquent
taxes. She completely rejected her responsibility to the town by referring the
men to a time when the since departed mayor, Colonel Sartoris, “remitted her
taxes” (70). Miss Emily and the house show further examples of their disregard
for progress when Emily denies the Grierson house a number, and a mailbox, just
as Emily herself refused to be labeled or to be associated with anything as
modernistic and common as a mailbox. Even when she was left “alone, a pauper,”
and “humanized,” she absolutely refused to be viewed with pity (72). In fact
she “demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last
Grierson” (73). Likewise, just as Emily held herself “a little too high” for
what she was, the house is presented as “Lifting its stubborn and Coquettish
gasoline pumps in this description are undoubtedly used to symbolize what Emily
must surely see as the mostly unimportant and purposeless townspeople. This
single comparison by itself provides indisputable evidence that Emily Grierson
and her family’s house are strongly related with one another.
So, it should now be obvious to the analytical reader that the
relationship between the Grierson house’s and Miss Emily Grierson’s, physical
deterioration, shift in social standing, and reluctancy to accept change, is too
precise to be construed coincidental. It is precisely this open usage of
symbolism, and expert utilization of foreshadowing that earned both William
Faulkner and “A Rose for Emily” their places among the classics.
& Company, Inc. 1991: 69-76.