In "A Rose for Emily," what was the significance of Emily's father in her life?

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Katrina Fleetham eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In “A Rose for Emily,” the father acts as an isolating force in Emily’s life. The townspeople “remember[…] the young men her father had driven away” and it is only after her father’s death that Emily meets and pursues the Northerner Homer Barron. Other mentions of her father reference his “crayon portrait” in the dusty parlor or the townspeople’s envisioning of him as “a spraddled silhouette […] his back to [Miss Emily] and clutching a horsewhip.” Despite the fact that Mr. Grierson is not an active character in the story, Faulkner’s descriptions paint him as a kind of guard, chasing off Emily’s suitors to keep her with him.

It is also worth noting that as the story’s events are told in non-chronological order, much of the action is referred to in relation to her father’s death: “the dispensation dating from the death of her father,” “That was two years after her father’s death,” “After her father’s death,” “the summer after her father’s death.” His death informs Emily’s romantic timeline, and likely prevents her from forming a healthy relationship with Homer Barron. Just as her father locks Emily away from the world, Emily continues the cycle by keeping Homer Barron for herself.

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A Rose for Emily

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