Discuss the symbolism of Emily, the Negro manservant and the house she lived in "A Rose for Emily". Argue for or against the "rose" given to Emily.

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TOBE, THE MANSERVANT.  The African-American manservant symbolizes the slavery of the ante-bellum Old South. He serves Emily faithfully until her death; afterward, he disappears and is never seen again.

THE HOUSE.  Once a showpiece of Jefferson, the Grierson house has descended into dilapidation. It also symbolizes the glory days of the Old South, followed by its decline. At Emily's death, it stands among the newer, more modern buildings of the town--out of place among the advances of the 20th century.

EMILY.  Emily serves as one of the town's relics, a reminder of the height of the pre- and post-Civil War South. She maintains her aristocratic air, steadfastly refusing to change with the times and flaunting the laws of the day (refusal to pay taxes, murder). Her death signifies a change in the order of Jefferson.

THE ROSE.  No rose actually is mentioned in the story, but the symbolism of the rose show's the town's forgiveness of and the homage paid to her. It is a peace offering of sympathy. Does Emily deserve it? Considering the murder and other perversities she committed, I would say "no."

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A Rose for Emily

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