How does gender affect the plot and character development in the short story?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ideologies of gender are usually mitigated by class, and we see this in “A Rose for Emily.” A woman of the aristocratic class of the traditional south, Emily is treated by deference by the townspeople.  She is able to manipulate them to avoid her taxes, they give her the poison when knowing she is up to no good, and when the smell around her house becomes obvious, they do not feel comfortable confrontingher because they “cannot accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad.”  “Ladies” of the old south were to  be treated respectfully and were put on a pedestal:  they were “a tradition, a duty, and a care.” The flip side of the ideology of the lady was the patriarchal father who controls her, and we see this in the tableau of Emily and her father, her behind him, and he with his boots on and whip in his hands.  He prevented her from marrying (thus controlling her life), and so she was left lonely after he died and they lost their money.  As a “lady," Emily certainly couldn’t work for a living! She turns to Homer, which is a scandal because he is a working-class man, and the town pities her for this and also ridicules her. When he, this man of “little account,” appears ready to abandon her as well, she uses her power by killing him to keep him with her. The title kindly takes away the “miss” from her name in order to free her from the burdens of her class and gives her a rose, a symbol of love and romance.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Keep in mind to, that "ladies" were considered prone to "vapors" and really weren't allowed to think, much less make any decisions during this time period.  Women were supposed to be lovely, helpless, and in constant need of the man--father, husband, brother--to take care of her.

Emily certainly blows that out of the water when she takes matters into her own hands and makes sure that Homer Baron does not leave her.

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A Rose for Emily

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