In "A Rose for Emily," what contrast does the narrator draw between changing reality and Emily's refusal or inability to recognize change?

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Emily seems to think and feel in absolutes; there is no middle ground, gray area, or possibility of change in her perception of the world. Her house, for example, is not well-kept as time passes, and the narrator describes it as possessing a "stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton...

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wagons and the gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores." No effort has been made to update the home or even keep it in good repair; it now sits, strangely, among relics of an old life (cotton wagons) and the representations of a new (the gas pumps). Even the description of it makes it sound like a Southern belle of the antebellum era. It, like Miss Emily, is a "tradition": something held on to that does not change.

When town representatives come to speak with her about paying her taxes, she encourages them to "See Colonel Sartoris," despite his being dead for ten years, and she declares that she has "no taxes in Jefferson," as if this is an undeniable and unchangeable fact. Then she dismisses the men as if they were beneath her. Emily clearly grew comfortable with her life with her father so that, when he died, she could not accept that she was now completely alone. Her "father had driven away" all of her suitors, leaving her no choices. Rather than recognize the wrongheadedness of this behavior, she does the same thing to Homer Barron: she leaves him no choice. She poisons him and keeps his corpse in her bed for decades. Emily simply does not possess the ability to accept a changing reality and to move on with her life. Instead, she seems to freeze time inside her home so that she does not have to confront change outside it.

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The narrator uses the setting to draw attention to the fact that Miss Emily cannot and does not change.  Her house is described as having fallen into disrepair, the once white house is in bad need of a paint job.  The neighborhood in which the house is located was undoubtedly one of the best but the narrator drops little hints as to the current situation by telling us that gasoline pumps and cotton gins are now nearing her property. This tells the reader that the neighborhood has lost some of its affluence. 

As the narrator goes into the history and story of Miss Emily, we see her in her natural setting. In other words, she fits into the setting of the town as a young woman.  However, as the town grows and develops, she does not. In this case, she represents the 'Old South'.  Although not specifically stated why, we know that she has been given a reprieve from paying taxes by the Colonel.  As the town grows and new town leaders come into office, they find her reprieve to be a relic of and antiquated in unjust system of favouritism.  This also shows a contrast between new and old.  

To sum up, the setting contrasts and highlights Miss Emily's inability to change with the rest of the town who do change.  We see this in both physical descriptions of the town and in the situation described above concerning the new town officials. 

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Miss Emily appears to still be stuck in a time in which her family was 'on top' of the local society. Her home is run-down and falling apart and it is also way to big for one person to live in, yet she stays. The run-down appearance of the house is contrasted by the fact that the city is putting in paved sidewalks out front; the rest of the city is moving on, but Miss Emily stays the same.

This is also apparent in that it is clear that Homer Barron intends to leave her, yet Emily cannot deal with this fact. She is forced to alter reality so that it will fall in line with how SHE thinks it should go; therefore, she kills Barron so that she is able to 'keep' him forever, just as she thinks it should be.

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What contrasts does the narrator draw between changing reality and Emily's refusal or inability to recognize change?

Emily Grierson stands out from the other townspeople of Jefferson in her inability and unwillingness (I think both are true) to recognize and respond to change. Whether it is acknowledging her father's death to understanding the nuances of the South's shift from antebellum traditions to post-Civil War progress, Miss Emily seems almost intentionally uninformed.  

One contrast between Miss Emily and the reality of the rest of Jefferson is the Grierson family house: 

a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street"

Though garages and cotton gins have replaced most of the other houses like it and the town is moving on to a more commercial future, Miss Emily's family home lingers, "an eyesore among eyesores," a decaying relic of the traditional plantation aristocracy that the rest of the town is beginning to forget. She won't even put up the metal numbers to add her house to the postal route, a decision that declares her defiant refusal to change with the times. 

Another example of this contrast is Miss Emily's fight with the aldermen over her taxes. Another symbol of Southern tradition and chivalry, Colonel Sartoris, has allowed Miss Emily to continue living in her family home without paying taxes after the death of her father, but as local government administration changes over the years, the younger, newer generation has no such sentimental attachment. Miss Emily's insistence that she "ha[s] no taxes in Jefferson," repeated again and again to the varied responses of the aldermen show her complete denial of new ways of operating and the changing world. 

A final example of Miss Emily's refusal to acknowledge the change and passage of time is the bridal chamber/crypt of the final scene, where she has laid the body of Homer Barron and where, the iron gray hair suggests, she herself lies, to imagine the way her life might have gone. Miss Emily's choice to live in a morbid fantasy rather than the real world is the ultimate show of her refusal to face reality. 

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In "A Rose for Emily," what are some contrasts between Emily's perceptions of reality and reality itself?

There are a couple of areas in which the author contrasts Emily's perception of reality with reality itself.  One of these areas is with loss.  For example, Emily doesn't deal with the death of her father very well; to the extent that she keeps his dead body in the house to avoid letting go.  The townspeople had to convince her to allow them to remove it!

When the younger town aldermen decide to collect her overdue taxes, even though they knew she couldn't afford it now that children had stopped coming for pottery painting lessons, she said, "See Col. Sartaris" over and over.  The problem with this is that the poor colonel had been dead for some time.  She refused to understand her responsibility to her town in terms of finances/tax burden.

Finally, when Homer wouldn't agree to marry her because he was homosexual, she murdered him with arsenic... "for rats."  He made a fool of her in that she was the only one who couldn't tell he was gay, even though he drank and spent time with the young men in town at the bar. 

Emily's inability to see things for what they really were plauged her throughout the short story.

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In "A Rose for Emily," what contrast does the narrator draw between the changing reality around Miss Emily and her refusal or inability to recognize change?

In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," there are several instances in which Emily Grierson's behavior stands in contrast to the changing world around her. The narrator gives us many examples of how Miss Emily keeps to tradition and remains unchanged in her behavior by the passage of time. The three most prominent instances are her response to the attempt by the town government to collect property taxes from her when she was an old woman, her reaction to her father's death when she was a young woman, and, most significantly, her desire to keep Homer Barron with her even in his death.

The first major example that the narrator gives us of Miss Emily's refusal to change with the world around her is the incident of her unpaid property taxes. This incident occurs when Miss Emily is an old woman. Her behavior in response to a delegation from the town government shows the reader that she does not acknowledge change as ongoing:

"I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves."

"But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn't you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?"

"I received a paper, yes," Miss Emily said. "Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see We must go by the--"

"See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But, Miss Emily--"

"See Colonel Sartoris." (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) "I have no taxes in Jefferson.

Miss Emily does not accept that she might owe taxes or that the circumstances around her have changed; rather, she directs them to see a mayor who has been deceased for a decade.

The next incident that the narrator relays is the account of how Miss Emily reacts to her father’s death. Her behavior again shows that she is unwilling to accept, or even acknowledge, change:

The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.

The final and most important example of Miss Emily’s behavior standing in contrast to the changes occurring around her comes with the reveal at the end of the story, namely that Miss Emily has kept Homer Barron’s body in her bedroom after his death:

For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.

Clues from the story (i.e. the purchase of arsenic, the smell around her house, and Homer Barron’s last known appearance in town all coming at the same time) suggest not only that she has kept Homer Barron’s remains for decades, but that she also may have instigated his death. From this the reader can conclude that Miss Emily acts to resist Homer Barron leaving her in both life and in death, which is the greatest change we know.

These three major incidents all show that Miss Emily’s behavior in the story is at odds with change. They are bolstered by many other minor suggestions by the narrator that Miss Emily represents a fading tradition, and that she refuses to adapt to the world as it moves on around her.  

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