How does this story handle the linked themes of female oppression and empowerment?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," Miss Emily represents the Old South: its chevalier culture in which women were to remain pure, be coy and play the role of belle debutantes.  Women were defined men: first by their fathers, and then by the courtiers and husbands.

Emily is expected to marry young, but when she doesn't she begins to lose social status.  And when her father dies, she is lost.  She loses the man who defined her without having either a courtier or husband.  Even when he dies, she doesn't want to give up his dead body, such is her morbid attachment to men.

Homer Baron arrives in town, a Yankee and openly homosexual.  She marries him out of spite, knowing she will kill him.  She sleeps with the enemy as revenge against him and against the ladies have called her old maid.  She had been so paranoid about having another man leave her, that she poisons him in bed and sleeps with his dead corpse so as to never go without having a man again.

It's the perfect marriage: no one will ever both her again.  All the rumors and gossip stop.  The marriage freezes time: no one exits or enters the house again (except for Tobe).

Symbolically, the Old South sleeps with the New North in what become the new post-Civil War South.   They are morbid and gothic bedfellows in this forever illegitimate society.


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A Rose for Emily

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