In "A Rose for Emily," what does Faulkner mean by "august names"? Who are they?
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The word "august" here means distinguished, or important. That means that the august names in the town are the names of the people who are important in that town.
In this case, the term is used to refer to people who are dead. We are not told exactly who they are, but we do know that these were the people who built the houses in the rich neighborhood where Miss Emily lived. It may be that they were the slaveholders who were once rich, but who lost much of their wealth after the Civil War.
Faulkner gives a depressing description of how the splendor of the "Old South" has succumbed even after the attempts of the Reconstruction and the imminent onset of modern times.
garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood;
Those who once had power, money and distinction, such as the Griersons, lost everything after fall of the Confederates in the Civil War. Even many years after the end of the war, which is when this story takes place, there is still an overall inability to restore what once was.
And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.
Therefore Faulker is referring to those people who may have probably still been powerful and distinctive had the war never taken place. The problem with those individuals is that, like Emily, they were understandably unable to accept that their glory is, and forever will, remain a vestige of the past.
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