How did Homer Baron represent change and the fall of the Old South in "A Rose for Emily"?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "Yankee" foreman arrived in Jefferson to upgrade the town's streets in the William Faulkner short story "A Rose for Emily." He symbolizes the Northern carpetbaggers and scalawags who moved south to seek their fortunes following the end of the Civil War and the fall of the Confederacy in 1865. In the days after the Civil War, few Southerners were allowed positions of power until years later, and it was customary for Northern newcomers to be appointed to these posts. Such is the case with Homer. However, these are new times, and Homer's presence is not resented as a carpetbagger would have been.

Pretty soon he knew everybody in town.  Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group.

Homer's popularity and acceptance by many in Jefferson signals the beginning of the end to the long-held Southern hatred and mistrust of Northerners. His open courting--especially on Sundays!--of Emily, whose family was one of Jefferson's oldest, was also a shock to the elder townspeople:

'Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.' But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige--without calling it noblesse oblige.

Emily's acceptance of the cheery Homer added to the change that was going on all around her, but as are many things in the South, this adjustment would be a slow one. Despite Homer's apparent good intentions, like the scalawags before him, he had no plans to remain in Jefferson forever. When his assignment was over, he had planned to leave, a fact that Emily must have discovered one fateful night.

Read the study guide:
A Rose for Emily

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question