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Symbolism in "A Rose for Emily?What details support that Faulkner uses symbolism in...

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huudung | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 18, 2008 at 5:28 AM via web

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Symbolism in "A Rose for Emily?

What details support that Faulkner uses symbolism in "A Rose for Emily?

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lewismct | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 18, 2008 at 7:13 PM (Answer #2)

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One instance of symbolism in "A Rose for Emily" is in the title itself. The rose is most often thought of as a symbol for love in which case Homer is the "rose" or love for Emily.  Her father thought no man was good enough for her or for the Grierson family.  Therefore she was never able to experience passion or the rose of love until she met Homer.  However, there is another meaning of rose to consider.  In Medieval times the rose was used as a sign of silence or secrecy.  A rose was hung from the ceiling at a meeting of secret societies indicating a demand for discretion.  The rose in the title of the story could therefore stand for Emily's secret; that is Homer her "rose" whom she cherished, loved and kept to herself even after his body was corrupted by the decay of time.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted July 18, 2008 at 7:40 PM (Answer #3)

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Other instances of symbolism include how Emily represented the "Old South" that was slowly dying and making way for the newer, industrialized South that was on its way in.  The South was lagging behind the North in technology, and it took the South longer to become an industrialized society.  Miss Emily, with her dilapidated mansion in the middle of the town that around her was demonstrating growth and changing with the times, was the last remnant of the "Old South" in the town, really.  She refused to change and this was one of her tragic flaws, really.

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 19, 2008 at 2:17 AM (Answer #4)

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A significant theme in A Rose for Emily is death which is symbolic of both Emily's life and the life of the old south.

After the South is defeated in the Civil War, Emily's life is symbolically over in the same way that plantation life becomes a memory.  She lives, but has no life.  She becomes enamored of the dead which is first depicted when she resists burying her father.   

 "Emily is a necrophiliac (literally, ‘‘one who loves the dead’’)."

Her attempt at grasping at life through her relationship with Homer Barron also results in death.  She would rather kill him than allow him to leave her. She then lives with death by sleeping next to the corpse of Homer Barron for many years.  

After Miss Emily's death, the decomposed corpse is discovered, along with a strand of gray hair found on a pillow next to the long dead Homer Barron.

Death is both a theme and a symbol in the story.  Sadly, Emily's life is defined by death, symbolically, like the old south, she fades from real life, although continuing to physically exist, everything that mattered to Emily has passed away. 

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:52 AM (Answer #5)

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Faulkner calls Emily a "fallen monument" and an "idol in a niche" to suggest how the town views her and to connect her to the idea of the old, genteel Southern ways.  The modern townspeople don't know what to do with her, and she is so closed off and "inhuman" to them, but they respect her enough (or are intimidated enough) to just leave her alone.  Like Faulkner states, she was like a statue -- only representing  a real, living person and "thus she passed from generation to generation -- dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse."  Several of those adjectives describe inanimate objects such as monuments and statues.

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 27, 2010 at 7:48 PM (Answer #6)

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The single grey hair on the pillow is symbolic.  The old hair on the pillow signifies that Emily is an anachronism in the town now, lying with corpses as all that she has had to be proud of is also dead.  Her desperate attempt to maintain a hold upon the past has failed and she is a "fallen monument" who left a part of her behind in the grey hair.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 15, 2010 at 3:57 PM (Answer #7)

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Frames also seem to be symbolic in "A Rose for Emily." One of the examples is the scene where the narrator is describing Miss Emily's father as standing in the foreground and framed by the doorway as he held would be suitors at bay. Meanwhile Miss Emily is framed in the background. Also he references framing with reference to her crayon picture of her father in the gold frame. The whole story is framed in the idea of traditions dying out as time passes.

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tiphayne | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 12, 2011 at 5:49 AM (Answer #10)

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One instance of symbolism in "A Rose for Emily" is in the title itself. The rose is most often thought of as a symbol for love in which case Homer is the "rose" or love for Emily.  Her father thought no man was good enough for her or for the Grierson family.  Therefore she was never able to experience passion or the rose of love until she met Homer.  However, there is another meaning of rose to consider.  In Medieval times the rose was used as a sign of silence or secrecy.  A rose was hung from the ceiling at a meeting of secret societies indicating a demand for discretion.  The rose in the title of the story could therefore stand for Emily's secret; that is Homer her "rose" whom she cherished, loved and kept to herself even after his body was corrupted by the decay of time.

I am typing an essay and really like how you broke symbolism down do you know how I can cite your response in MLA format?

 

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sapphirepanda | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 26, 2012 at 6:42 AM (Answer #11)

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One instance of symbolism in "A Rose for Emily" is in the title itself. The rose is most often thought of as a symbol for love in which case Homer is the "rose" or love for Emily.  Her father thought no man was good enough for her or for the Grierson family.  Therefore she was never able to experience passion or the rose of love until she met Homer.  However, there is another meaning of rose to consider.  In Medieval times the rose was used as a sign of silence or secrecy.  A rose was hung from the ceiling at a meeting of secret societies indicating a demand for discretion.  The rose in the title of the story could therefore stand for Emily's secret; that is Homer her "rose" whom she cherished, loved and kept to herself even after his body was corrupted by the decay of time.

where can i find more information on the secretive meaning of the rose?

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