In "A Rose for Emily", how is Faulkner's views of the North and the South demonstrated by the use of Homer Barron's point of view?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The way that Faulkner presents the character of Homer Barron reveals his feelings about the North:  they are brash invaders, barging into the genteel South, pushing aside time honored traditions with their new-found power, taking control. 

"The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the riggers, and the riggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. 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." (Faulkner)

The presence of the Yankee in the story is a direct insult to the members of the town. Not only is he an outsider, but he is a laborer. The fact that he appears to be courting Miss Emily is a scandalous act.  He is unacceptable, not only a Yankee, but below Miss Emily socially.  

However, the author allows the Southern heroine to get the upperhand on the uncooperative Yankee.  When she discovers that he would not marry her, because he preferred men, she made sure he would never leave her. 

So, effectively, Faulkner allows the South to win a small victory through the actions of Miss Emily.  She gets the best of Homer Barron the Yankee, even though the town does not know that he never left her, they assume he left town, because they never see him again.

Miss Emily as depicted by Faulkner as a symbol of the Old South, survives, while the Northener, Homer Barron is defeated. 


mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Homer Barron is typical of the lower-class immigrants who came to the North.  These immigrants were poor and uneducated, seeking the "American Dream" as they poured into industrial cities to work labor jobs.  Often, they were rough, somewhat crude and brash, and loud. Faulkner describes him as

a big, dark [not of Northern European ancestry], ready man, with a big voice and eyeslighter than his face. The little boys would follow him to hear him cuss...

 In contrast to this type of person, Emily Grierson's family has descended from British gentility that came to the South for wealth as plantation owners.  Her family has a tradition of decorum and social elitism. For Miss Emily to be associated with a man such as Homer Barron is a "step down" in the eyes of her society:

...all the ladies said,'Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.'...there were others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige--...they just said 'Poor Emily.  Her kinsfolk should come to her.'

More that demonstrating a disparaging opinion of the North,  Faulkner's intentions are to indicate the "fall" of Miss Emily, the social death of her life which parallels the end of the Old South.


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A Rose for Emily

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