How does the townpeople's sense of culture affect the story's outcome?"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With the interpretation of Emily as symbolic of the Old South, the townspeople's sense of culture dehumanizes and perverts Emily.  For, to them Emily is a "sort of hereditary obligation," and "a monument."  This attitude of the townspeople leads them to excuse Emily's behavior at times, such as when Homer Barron returns to town within three days and the neighbor sees the Negro man admit him at the kitchen entrance. But, when Homer does not appear in the streets for almost six months, the narrator comments,

Then we knew that this was to be expected too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman's life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die.

When Emily refuses to fasten metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox, they let Emily pass

from generation to generation--dear, inescapabble, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.

And, this is how Emily Grierson died.  Having had her life repressed by her father, her growth as a person perverted by tradition and cultural expectations of her remaining in the past, Emily has become "impervious, tranquil and perverse"; she becomes the lover of death, the past, that most impervious of states.

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