Why is it significant that Homer is a construction foreman and a Northerner in "A Rose for Emily"?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Homer Barron, who almost by default is the antagonist of the short story, "A Rose for Emily," is symbolized by many of his characteristics. First, the name: He has a common, folky first name, but a last name that has aristocratic implications (Barron vs. Baron). The fact that he is a day laborer, a construction foreman, sets him apart from the aristocratic Griersons. Unlike Emily, who considers herself "a little too high for what they really were," and makes no attempts at friendship with anyone (because she thinks most people are beneath her), Homer makes friends at every turn. The fact that he is a Yankee, and an outsider, makes him an inappropriate mate for Emily, who comes from Southern aristocracy. He works outside in the heat of the day, while Emily rarely leaves the darkness of her home. He works among the common man, and he enjoys their company. The fact that he is a construction worker symbolizes that he is part of the changing modern generation, destroying and rebuilding parts of ante-bellum Jefferson. Emily, of course, symbolizes the Old South and the unchanging values of the 19th century. Homer is said to prefer the company of men, another hint that Emily's desire for him to marry her will not be accepted. As for being a Northerner--a "damn Yankee"--Homer was still looked upon by many people as a "carpetbagger," a man who heads south to make a financial profit off the vanquished Southerners. Northerners were still hated and distrusted by many Southerners of the time--there are still Civil War veterans in the town who keep the hatred of the North alive--and Homer may well have been completely reviled by the people of Jefferson if not for his warm personality and ease at making friends. Emily's choice of Homer for a possible spouse made it obvious to many people that he was a desperate last chance at marriage for a woman who had long since run out of other options.

Read the study guide:
A Rose for Emily

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question