What is the importance of gender and gender relations in  Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One way of approaching this would be to investigate the ways that the gender of Miss Emily is beneficial to her and the ways in which it is not. Clearly, starting off with the negatives, we are presented with a woman who has been terrorised by a strict, disciplinarian father who refuses to let her have any chance of happiness through love during his life:

We had long thought of them as a tableau, 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 ...

Being a woman in a very traditional society and with her father being the way that he is emphasises her lack of choice and opportunity. Clearly, in this sense, being female is viewed as negative, as it takes away opportunities rather than gives them to you.

However, at the same time, thanks to the old-fashioned values of chivalry and respect, she is treated with leniency and kindness by figures such as Colonel Sartoris, who let her off paying her taxes to help her in her penury. Likewise, in her old age, the Aldermen are reluctant to force her to pay her taxes. Thus we can likewise see that in some respects at least, gender is an empowering force that can yield certain benefits. The fact that Miss Emily is left to live in her own anachronistic world, corpse and all, without anyone intruding can be linked to the way that gender can be used in a positive fashion.

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