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What is Emily's predicament with her father in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner?

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happy99 | Student, College Freshman | Salutatorian

Posted July 27, 2013 at 12:45 AM via web

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What is Emily's predicament with her father in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:15 AM (Answer #1)

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In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," Miss Emily and her father are both relics of the Old South, the last of a generation of southerners who think differently than everyone around them. Despite their shared emphasis on the way things used to be, Miss Emily and her father do have a conflict, the "predicament" to which you no doubt refer. 

When Miss Emily is of marriageable age, her father refused to allow any suitors to come near her. The townspeople, even now, remember the image of 

Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door.

Because her father never let her marry, Miss Emily lived a very lonely existence. When her father died, she kept his body in the house and would not let anyone come to take him for three days--and even then she put up a fight. This horrible devotion even after death can also be read as an effort by Miss Emily to somehow punish her father for causing her so much misery. 

Despite the fact that Miss Emily and her father are much alike in their genteel and, from the perspective of the "modern generation," rather backward ways, her father caused Miss Emily much unhappiness in her life which no doubt contributed to Homer Barron's death, as well. 

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Lori Steinbach

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:36 AM (Answer #2)

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Indicative of Emily's "predicament" with her father is the depiction of her in an especially meaningful tableau:

Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreround, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.

This portrait is symbolic of the relationship between Emily and her father:he, the patriarch, she, the Southern young lady, acquiescent, at times, forcibly submissive. Even in death Mr. Grierrson commands his daughter. For, she keeps his body for three days until the authorities take it, and she wears his watch that "vanishes into her belt" but continues to tick as though Emly's father's heart lies within her.

Indeed, Emily's life is dominated by this patriarchy, so much so that she cannot free herself from it. She continues to turn away the tax collectors despite the death of Colonel Sartoris. For, she "would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will." Emily is dominated by the patriarchy of her father, still feeling that masculine domination is the order of her life. When Homer leaves her, Emily cannot bear to have no one in the position of her father, and so she does what she must.

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