A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily book cover
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In A Rose for Emily, what contrast does the narrator draw between changing reality and Emily's refusal or inability to recognize change?

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Emily seems to think and feel in absolutes; there is no middle ground, gray area, or possibility of change in her perception of the world. Her house, for example, is not well-kept as time passes, and the narrator describes it as possessing a "stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores." No effort has been made to update the home or even keep it in good repair; it now sits, strangely, among relics of an old life (cotton wagons) and the representations of a new (the gas pumps). Even the description of it makes it sound like a Southern belle of the antebellum era. It, like Miss Emily, is a "tradition": something held on to that does not change.

When town representatives come to speak with her about paying her taxes, she encourages them to "See Colonel Sartoris ," despite his being dead for ten years, and she declares that she has "no taxes in Jefferson," as if this is an undeniable and unchangeable fact. Then she...

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