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Most significantly, the narrator of "A Rose for Emily" remarks upon Emily Grierson's relationship to her father,
[the] quality of her father which had thwarted her woman's life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die.
This "quality" extends from the patriarchal to the cultural level. For, the narrator decalres that the town envisioned Emily and her father as a
...tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door.
Clearly, the patriarchal domination of the man only referred to as "Emily's father" is comprehensive as Emily grows up with the traditional views of the Old South in such matters as paying taxes, having servants, courting, and painting china. In fact, she is imprisoned in the Old South's patriarchy as her suitors are all dismissed and she becomes "a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town." For Emily her father is a grotesque in this Gothic tale. Philip Thomson in The Grotesque defines this personage as
a fundamentally ambivalent thing, as a clash of opposites, and hence, in some forms at least, as an approximate expression of the problematic nature of existence.... prevalent in societies and eras marked by strife, radical changes or disorientation.
Emily's father's influence looms over her as she continues as one set apart from the other townspeople. When her father dies, Emily appears bloated, as though she herself were dead. Perversely, she insists that he is not dead and lets no one take her father's body until three days have passed.
We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.
Indeed, it is because of her bizarre, extensive, and perverse relationship with her patriarchal father that Emily clings again to "that which had robbed her," Homer Barron. In order to retain him, she poisons the man and "clings" to him as another grotesque like her father. A thrawted and tragic life is that of Emily Grierson, whose domineering father has destroyed so many of her opportunities. "Too virulent and furious to die," the influence of Emily's father has been most extensive.
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