What relationship does the traditional past have to the modern present in A Rose for Emily?I'm really stuck here. I have no idea how to write a paper on this one question. I have some ideas (like...

What relationship does the traditional past have to the modern present in A Rose for Emily?

I'm really stuck here. I have no idea how to write a paper on this one question.

I have some ideas (like how Emily lives in the past, refuses to pay her taxes, clashes with the new generation of townspeople)


Does anybody have any helpful ideas?

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The traditional past, the Old South, has defined Miss Emily's life for her and even though in the present, her father is passed away, it is as if he is still alive and controlling her life.  She was fated by her father's decisions to be alone, based on his interpretation of the old traditional past which suggested to him that he and his family were superior to everyone else. He found all his daughter's suitors to be beneath her and he rejected them as potential husbands.

Miss Emily grew old and alone waiting for her father to approve of a suitable man to marry her.  Now her father is dead, the south has lost the war and the plantation society that remains hidden in their homes in her town still looks out their windows to observe and judge her behavior.

A perfect example of how the tradition of the old south haunts poor Emily is when she begins taking carriage rides with the Yankee worker, Homer Barron. Her neighbors, the old guard, watch a rose of the South court a northern traitor. They not only wag their tongues at her scandalous behavior  they contact her family who lives out of town to come and stop her arrogant and ill-advised behavior. 

I believe that Miss Emily has been driven slightly insane by the stiffling traditions of the old south that refused to allow her to be loved and have a family of her own.  In the only action that she has left, in order to not be alone, when she realizes that Homer Barron would never marry her, she kills him and sleeps next to his corpse until her death.

It is a sad testament for Miss Emily that the only roses she probably ever got from a man were on top of her casket.

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