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Emily herself embodies the most obvious symbolic reference to the decline of the Old South in the William Faulkner short story, "A Rose for Emily." The lone survivor of the once respected Grierson family in Jefferson, Miss Emily slowly falls from grace in a series of tragedies and scandals that made her the talk of the town for many years.
Another character that represents the fall of the South is Miss Emily's manservant, Tobe. Tobe is rarely seen and never heard, but he a living emblem of the slavery that was so important to the daily life of the pre-Civil War South. Like the slaves of the first half of the 19th century, Tobe serves his mistress faithfully, and upon Miss Emily's death, Tobe is freed from his imaginary shackles, and he disappears never to be seen again. Emily's death signifies his own personal emancipation.
The Grierson house stands as a major symbol of the decline.
It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps--an eyesore among eyesores.
Like the South and its glory days before the Civil War, the house had once been a monument to financial and social splendor, but it had crumbled to only a memory of its youth.
Other minor representations of the South's fall include Miss Emily's great aunt, "old lady Wyatt," who "had gone completely crazy at last;" and the china painting lessons, a dying hobby when instituted by Miss Emily, and which finally disappeared altogether after her students stopped showing up (probably from complete disinterest).
One of the underlying symbols of the fall of the old south is the changing of Col. Sartoris' guard and the preferential treatment that old South families *such as Emily's* would get only for the sake of their history in town. The fact that Emily was not receiving the leniency on her taxes shows that times were changing and society was also changing its rules.
Another fact is that the townspeople (as narrators of the story) were themselves amazed at the condition of Emily's house, her black manservant, and her staunch resistance to change. Through the narration of the novel you get the feelings of the townspeople which, is clear, is one of uneasiness at Emily's behavior. Therefore, they changed with time as well.
Moreover, Emily's presence and appearance, her refusal to welcome change, her staunch ways, and the inability to let go are also mirroring the psyche of the crossover of the Old to the New South: One with changes waiting to happen only when people are ready to receive them.
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