What is the symbolism found in the short story, "A Rose for Emily," by William Faulkner?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Faulkner uses many symbols to emphasize the important themes found in "A Rose for Emily."

THE ROSE.  The rose in the title, as well as the "valance curtains of faded rose colour upon the rose-shaded lights," symbolizes the love that Emily never finds.

THE MANSERVANT.  Tobe, Emily's manservant, is representative of the past: a Negro (and possibly former slave) who faithfully works for Emily until her death and then disappears.

THE SIDEWALKS.  The construction of the sidewalks which Homer Barron supervises symbolizes modern progress and change.

HOMER BARRON.  The Yankee Homer Barron represents both the old ways of the South (he is a modern-day carpetbagger) and the contemprary ideas of the newer generation, who no longer considers Northerners as their enemy. Homer is entirely likable, unlike the stereotypical Yankee who is only bent on the destruction of the South.

THE PORTRAIT.  The portrait of Emily and her father serves to represent the ways of the Old South: Emily's father, a strict man holding a whip; and Emily, as the weak, innocent, subservient young Southern belle.

THE GRAY HAIR.  Emily's hair that is left behind on the pillow next to Homer's remains symbolizes her life decadence and perversity, as well as the unrequited love between the two.

THE HOUSE.  The Grierson home serves as a remembrance of the glory days of the South--once a magnificent structure but now a decrepit, crumbling symbol of decay amidst the

... cotton wagons and gasoline pumps--an eyesore among eyesores.