Explain what Tobe, the manservant, represents and why he is important in the William Faulkner short story, "A Rose for Emily."

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Miss Emily's manservant, Tobe, symbolizes several aspects of the ante-bellum life of the Old South in William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily." Tobe never speaks throughout the story, serving his mistress faithfully without apparent question. He is in part blamed for the decline of the Grierson house, of which he is the lone caretaker. When Emily dies, he leaves, never to be seen again by the residents of Jefferson. It is an act of independence he never was able to show before. He represents the slavery days of the Deep South, when black men were bought and sold like cattle. His freedom comes upon Emily's demise, and his disappearance symbolizes the end of many of the Old South's slowly, fading memories of their glory days before the Civil War.

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