A Rose For Emily SymbolismHow does Faulkner indicate that Emily is bizarre and crazy through the use of symbolism? I am trying to write a paragraph on this for my essay, but I am having much...

A Rose For Emily Symbolism

How does Faulkner indicate that Emily is bizarre and crazy through the use of symbolism? I am trying to write a paragraph on this for my essay, but I am having much difficutly with it.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the "deputation" knocks at the door "through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons" to inquire about the taxes, Emily appears, wearing a black dress with "a thin gold chain" which descends to her waist.  She leans upon "an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head."  These two golden items appear to have belonged to Emily's father because the chain with the watch hidden in her belt is too long for her and the head of the cane is tarnished.  Certainly, they--like the house in which she resides--are symbolic of the Old South.  Also, they may symbolize the domination which Emily's father has upon her life, even after death as her identity has always been shaped by her patriarchal father. In fact, she has no form without this identity, a fact symbolized by Emily's appearance of "a lump of dough."

And, let us not forget the title itself, "A Rose for Emily."  This rose, that never appears in the story, must have significance.  Perhaps it symbolizes her final attempt to capture love.

sharrons eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "A Rose for Emily", Emily's bizzare behavior can be attributed to her inabilty to let go of the past (including letting go of the dead.)  Ms. Emily is also bizarre because she uses death to keep Homer from leaving her.  

1. At the beginning of the story, when the mayor writes a letter asking her to meet with him, she replies with "a note on an archaic shape, in a thin flowing calligraphy" saying that she did not go out anymore.  Hence, the note and the way it was written show that Ms. Emily is stuck in the past as she writes in an "old fashioned" style (calligraphy) on old fashioned paper.

2.  "The Smell"  (in section II) that comes from Ms. Emily not desposing of her father's dead body also symbolizes Ms. Emily's refusal to let go of the past.

3. The iron gray hair lying on the pillow next to the corpse of Homer Barron is one the greatest symbols of Ms. Emily's bizzarre behavior.  The iron grey hair shows that Ms. Emily has killed Homer Barron and has slept with the corpse for many years. 

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Emily's refusal to deal with the arbiters of reality (the town's directors) is symbolized in the tax letters which are returned unopened to the post office. 

This refusal demonstrates Emily's choice to deny the reality of the passage of time and to live in her own cloistered, bizarre and highly personal "era", outside of time. The unopened letters convey this idea about Emily very succintly.  

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I absolutely love discussing the William Faulkner short story, “A Rose for Emily.” Along with some of the other examples of eccentric (crazzzzzzzeeeee) behavior exhibited by Miss Emily Grierson is the display of the crayon portrait of her father in a gold(?) frame no less.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

He also uses the house--once regal and rich--which sits in the middle of gas stations and other such lowly buildings.  Juxaposed with these lower-class surroundings, the Grierson estate seems out of place and old-fashioned.  This house represents Miss Emily.   

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A Rose for Emily

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