How can the theme of isolation be explained in "A Rose for Emily"?

The theme of isolation is seen in "A Rose for Emily" through the fact that Emily is initially isolated because of her father's view that the Griersons have no social equals and must hold themselves aloof from their neighbors. After his death, she comes to be regarded as a curiosity. Many talk about her, but no one talks to her, and she is left alone.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Emily's isolation is explored in several ways throughout "A Rose for Emily ." Early in her life, Emily is isolated by her father's social pretensions. The Griersons regard themselves as superior to all the other families in Jefferson, and no one is quite good enough to marry Emily...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Emily's isolation is explored in several ways throughout "A Rose for Emily." Early in her life, Emily is isolated by her father's social pretensions. The Griersons regard themselves as superior to all the other families in Jefferson, and no one is quite good enough to marry Emily or even to be her close friend. When she does have a suitor, he leaves her shortly before her father dies, after which her isolation is complete.

Emily's isolation is of a somewhat unusual kind, however. It is symbolized by the strange old Gothic house "decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies" in which she lives alone. Instead of being the single great house in the middle of a romantic open landscape, a fitting home for a Southern belle, Emily's house is surrounded by cotton wagons, gasoline pumps, and other industrial eyesores.

In the same way, Emily is isolated but not altogether left alone. Instead, she is very different from those around her and survives as a curiosity among them, intimate with no one. She is isolated in the same way that an elephant in a zoo is: she is singular and without peers, even though everyone is looking at and talking about her. When she does have dealings with her neighbors—even when she receives an official deputation—she treats them in a high-handed manner that confirms and exacerbates her isolation.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on