What is the psychological bondage to her father theme in "A Rose for Emily"?

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The theme of psychological bondage is shown in the dynamic between Miss Emily and her father. In Miss Emily's home, her father has been the patriarch who controlled the lives of his family. He sent Emily's beaux away if they did not meet his standards, and he dictated the manner in which Emily lived.

The narrators remark that they had long thought of Emily and her father as a "tableau":

Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.

This portrait bespeaks of the relationship as with his horsewhip he appears to be astride her as though she were a horse--a very dominant position. Obviously, he was very authoritarian. Further, after his death, Emily could not bring herself to admit his loss; when the ladies of society came to visit after her father's death, Emily "told them that her father was not dead." For, she was so accustomed to his domination that she found life impossible without him.

We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.

Emily Grierson has had a forced dependence upon her father. Having lost her chances at marriage and sacrificed her young, tender years to the domination of her patriarch, Emily lives out a tragic life in which she tries to fill a void, but cannot retrieve the opportunities for love that she has irretrievably lost.   

 

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