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A Rose for Emily - Tradition Versus Change

  • Date Submitted: 11/17/2011 03:35 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 53.8 
  • Words: 2930
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Themes

Tradition versus Change
Through the mysterious figure of Emily Grierson, Faulkner conveys the struggle that comes from trying to maintain tradition in the face of widespread, radical change. Jefferson is at a crossroads, embracing a modern, more commercial future while still perched on the edge of the past, from the faded glory of the Grierson home to the town cemetery where anonymous Civil War soldiers have been laid to rest. Emily herself is a tradition, steadfastly staying the same over the years despite many changes in her community. She is in many ways a mixed blessing. As a living monument to the past, she represents the traditions that people wish to respect and honor; however, she is also a burden and entirely cut off from the outside world, nursing eccentricities that others cannot understand.

Emily lives in a timeless vacuum and world of her own making. Refusing to have metallic numbers affixed to the side of her house when the town receives modern mail service, she is out of touch with the reality that constantly threatens to break through her carefully sealed perimeters. Garages and cotton gins have replaced the grand antebellum homes. The aldermen try to break with the unofficial agreement about taxes once forged between Colonel Sartoris and Emily. This new and younger generation of leaders brings in Homer’s company to pave the sidewalks. Although Jefferson still highly regards traditional notions of honor and reputation, the narrator is critical of the old men in their Confederate uniforms who gather for Emily’s funeral. For them as for her, time is relative. The past is not a faint glimmer but an ever-present, idealized realm. Emily’s macabre bridal chamber is an extreme attempt to stop time and prevent change, although doing so comes at the expense of human life.
The Power of Death
Death hangs over “A Rose for Emily,” from the narrator’s mention of Emily’s death at the beginning of the story through the description of Emily’s...

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