As a symbol what does the house represent in "A Rose for Emily," and how is it important to the story?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The townsfolk narrator in "A Rose for Emily" first describes how, when Miss Emily dies, it feels as if the people were paying to a "fallen monument". This means that Emily already was notorious, or famous, in her town for being a relic of the past; one of the eldest community members, and an eccentric one at that.



The description of Emily is juxtaposed to the description of the house. The house is an extension of Emily. It represents not only a relic bequeathed to her by her father, but also a relic from the former Old South to which Emily and her family once belonged.



The narrator explains that, unfortunately, this relic from the past has not retained any of the past dignity that it once displayed.



It was 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.



Part of the reason why this house stands out is because, like Emily, it has lost its touch with the reality of the changing times; the beauty that it once represented has become overshadowed by a changing society that may even look back in time and dislike what they see.



But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores


The eyesore is also representative of the sad state that Emily and her once- majestic home have fallen under. As we know, her father was the anchor of the family and he directly controlled her personality. When her father dies, so does a part of her and, as a result, the home that Mr. Grierson once held dear went down with his death as well. This being said, Emily and her home are one and the same; both out of time, both under a bad spell, and both unable to change.


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A Rose for Emily

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