Besides death, what are some other themes in Faulkner's "A rose for Emily"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two most important themes in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" besides that of death are the decline of the Old South and community versus isolation. Emily herself symbolizes the Old South as do her house, her dear departed father, and Colonel Sartoris. As Emily declines, after the deaths of her father and Sartoris, the house follows suit from neglect and antiquity to fall into an appearance of decay that matches Emily's. The ways of the Old south are changing as time flows by following the Civil War and though relics of the past remain nobody attends to them anymore nor does anybody respect the traditions and precepts they stand for, as is evident in the Town Council's mild-mannered battle with Miss Emily over Colonel Sartoris's tax-absolving "loan."

Emily also symbolizes the theme of community versus isolation. To carry on with the former example, the community develops and advances while Miss Emily remains the same as she was as a girl and young woman. As a result the Town Council can not understand why she can not understand that she has taxes to pay. On the other hand, Miss Emily insists that she will correct the unschooled ignorance of the delegation of the Town Council who come to annoy her about taxes that Colonel Sartoris, now long dead, absolved forever. Thus Emily is in the community and an important part of it, yet she is isolated from all but its memory and the phantom of its past and the shadow of its present existence. This is further dramatized by the descriptions of how the individual and the collective towns people relate to, react to, and reflect on her.

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A Rose for Emily

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