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What is the significance of sidewalks in "A Rose for Emily"?

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lbragg0008 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 17, 2011 at 7:20 AM via web

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What is the significance of sidewalks in "A Rose for Emily"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 17, 2011 at 7:32 AM (Answer #1)

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Sidewalks have at least two significant meanings in William Faulkner's acclaimed short story, "A Rose for Emily." They provide her with a way of meeting her doomed beau, Homer Barron, who has come to Jefferson to supervise the construction of the town's new sidewalks. When the sidewalks are completed, Homer decides to abandon his new love for his next assignment--one, that we find later, he never begins. Sidewalks also serve as a symbol of progress for the town, which is slowly advancing into the 20th century in direct opposition to the character of Miss Emily, who serves as a reminder of the ante-bellum Deep South--forever unchanging.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:19 PM (Answer #1)

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The sidewalks in "A Rose for Emily" may signify, first and foremost, moving toward the future, as well as the advent of change. The fact that Jefferson County even considered the repaving of sidewalks indicates that this is no longer a town who's still asleep and dreaming of its once great past; Jefferson county is now up and moving, clearly showing that they are opening their doors to whoever chooses to walk down its streets.

The sidewalk project is also significant because this is how Homer Barron, a Yankee, enters the town, makes a notorious name for himself, and somehow sweeps Emily off her feet. Homer, who was one of the construction workers assigned to the projects, seemed to have made quite the image for himself, leading people to think of him as brash, and vulgar, and some even thought he was attracted to other men. 

Finally, because of Homer's connection to the sidewalks, and the sidewalks' own connection to change, we can say that the sidewalks are a conduit through which Emily left her shy ways, and dared to challenge her father's stern rules of courtship. After all, she takes very seriously her relationship with her beau, Homer...seriously enough to kill him when he attempts to leave. 

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