A Rose for Emily is a short story by William Faulkner, where he masterfully contrasted the present with the past. The past is shown in the story by such heroes as Emily, her servant, colonel Sartoris, and the Board of Alderman. The present is represented by Homer Barron, and the town residents. The main idea of the story is that death is inevitable, and no one can fight it. The events in the story gradually show that everything is susceptible to decay: Emily becomes older and unattractive, and the house she lives in also ages together with her. Emily is the representative of the past decorum. Different attitudes of the town inhabitants towards Emily are shown throughout the story.
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The story is divided into five sections. The first section opens with the funeral of the main heroine. Citizens of the town came to Emily Grierson’s funeral to her house. No one of them was inside the house for more than ten years. This part of the story also tells how Emily was required to resume paying taxes, but she refused to do it. Her refusal was based on the fact that she had an agreement with the colonel according to which she had not to pay taxes. The colnel was dead for ten years, and people in the town considered Emily’s refusal strange and devoid of sense.
The second section of the story tells about the death of Emily’s father and the fact that Emily was left by a man, who was supposed to marry her. Emily’s great-aunt seemed to be insane, and Emily herself shows signs of strange behavior. As a result, she is pitied by the townspeople. Emily does not want to admit that her father is dead, and she allowed people to bury him only three days later. Citizens of the town also thought that Griersons were too proud because Emily’s father did not allow different men to court his daughter. He thought that they were not good enough for her.
In the third section, the story tells about the illness, from which Emily suffers as a result of her father’s death. A new hero, Homer Barron, emerges in this part of the story. Homer began to court Emily, and she is seen with him on Sundays, but people in the town think it is beneath Emily’s pride to be with such a man. People began to pity Emily even more.
In the fourth section, townspeople think thatt Emily may kill herself with the poison she bought. Women asked the minister to speak with Emily, but, after his visit to her, he refused to tell what happened inside. Then people saw how Homer entered the house but never came out of it. Emily refused to pay taxes. She also never came out of the house and was seen only after her death. The fifth section describes the events after Emily’s death. Everything was prepared for the wedding, which never happened. Homer’s body was found in a sealed upstairs room.
The whole story is masterfully written to show the gradual decay of the protagonist and old traditions. People of Jefferson pity Emily because she lives in her own world and acts strangely. She also suffers from her father’s death and in denial of it. Emily is a person, who does not want to live in the present, and that is why she had to take her lover with her. She could not accept the fact that townspeople did not think her relationship to be a good one. Each section of the story presupposes that there is no good outcome for Emily. This story is an excellent example of the difference between the past and the present.