How does Emily's character develop throughout the story?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," Emily changes only superficially.  In fact, one of the traits that makes Emily what she is is her inability to change. 

Emily is a character raised in the ante-bellum South who is trying to hold on to her pre-civil war world.  She even refuses to have a mail box installed.  She won't let go of her father when he dies until she is forced, just as she won't let go of Homer.  If she changes, the change is only that she gets better at holding on to what she wants to hold on to.  She understands that Homer is not the settling down type, so she makes a preemptive strike, if you will, and poisons him so that she can keep him with her forever.  And she manages to keep it a secret. 

She succeeds (by holding on to Homer), where she had failed with her father.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In the short story "A Rose for Emily" Miss Emily is first seen as the mysterious old lady who died alone in her southern home that was once regal but has fallen to waste.  The writer then takes us back to a time when she was slender and pert sitting in the carriage next to her father.  She was a young southern belle with a proud and prestigious father which gave her the presence of prestige.

As one moves through the story her father dies and she has trouble handing being left alone.  She can not accept his death initially, but she finally allows them to remove him.  She is left with no money so she finds a way to support herself.  However, she does not let go of her ideals that she is still just as majestic as she had been when he father was alive.  The house becomes more and more run down and time passes on.  People send their children to her for classes just to help her out of pity.

One day a man comes to town and she has the glimmer of hope that he will love and marry her.  However, he prepares to leave town.  He disappears and the townspeople believe that he had just gone on without her.

Miss Emily is sill headstrong and adamant.  She does not allow people into her home.  She has become stout and her body has aged and her hair has become an iron gray.  After she dies the people enter her home and find the skeleton of Homer on her bed with one of her gray hairs beside it.

Miss Emily has gone from being a sympathetic aging southern belle to a murderer who was mentally off.

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