Fallen Monuments by Katie Myers
In A Rose For Emily by William Faulkner, the home of Miss Emily Grierson is described and used as a symbol of the decay and deterioration of her own physical state. The characteristics of Miss Emily s home are parallel to her own physical appearance. Through the description of the home, Faulkner helps to clarify Grierson s character and provide a more detailed image of who Emily Grierson is.
Miss Emily Grierson s home, once a big, squarish frame house decorated with cupolas and spires and located in a prominent area of town, has become an eyesore among eyesores (315). Through lack of attention, the house has evolved from a representation of nobility and tradition into the ugly remains of a previous era. The newer generation, the backbone and the spirit of the town (319), view the house as no more than stubborn and coquettish decay (315). The now deteriorating dwelling has a door through which no visitor has passed since eight or ten years earlier (315). Seldom did anyone see the inside of Emily Grierson s home; her front door remained closed (319). On one occasion, when a deputation was sent to her home, they were admitted into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow , Faulkner described the smell of the home as that of dust and disuse-a close, dank smell (315). When the blinds of one window were opened and the visitors sat down, they could see that the leather was cracked, and a faint dust rose spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray (315). Through Faulkner s choice of words, vivid pictures are painted of the decrepit home and the lack of life within.
Miss Emily, similar to her environment, has become an eyesore; for example, Faulkner first describes her as a fallen monument (315) to suggest her previous class and her now grotesque appearance. In her younger years, not even the young men were quite good enough (317). Like the home she lives in, Miss Emily has lost her beauty. Once a slender figure in white (317), the small, fat woman in black with a voice that is dry and cold is described as obese and bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water with eyes lost in the fatty ridges of her face (316). The connection between the home and Miss Emily extends to the tarnished gilt easel , the portrait of her father, and Miss Emily leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head (315). Inside and out, both the body and home in which Miss Emily live are in a state of deterioration like tarnished metal. Left alone, and a pauper, Miss Emily and her home have endured the effects of time and decay (317). Her life, like the house around her, has suffered greatly from lack of genuine love and care.
In the same way the townspeople had begun to overlook the putrid home in which she lived, they began to overlook Emily, too. She passed from generation to generation dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse (320). The disintegration of her home and body growing worse each day. At the time Emily fell ill and died, the home was filled with dust and shadows (320). She passed away in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight (320).
Faulkner used Grierson and her home as examples of the way that beauty and elegance can become grotesquely distorted through neglect and lack of love. In this story, the house deteriorates for forty years until it becomes ugly; Miss Emily s physical condition dissipates in a similar manner. The story begins by describing the fallen monument that was once a lovely home, and ends with another fallen monument, the stubborn, dilapidated, murdering Miss Emily Grierson.