In what ways is "A Rose for Emily" a story about resistance to change?  

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laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily, the titular character of "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, is herself symbolic of resistance to change. She's unable to accept change in her life, and she goes to extremes to keep everything around her the same.

Emily is in love with a man named Homer who doesn't want to marry her. The entire town scrutinizes their relationship and expects them to get married—especially when she orders men's items with his monogram. What they don't know is that Homer wasn't going to stay with her. She's unwilling to let that change take place, so she kills him and leaves his body in her bed. Emily sleeps next to it every night until she dies decades later. 

The narrator says that Miss Emily was a "fallen monument" to her local community. One of the reasons for this is that she's a relic of the past. Time changes the community around her and she's unwilling to change with it. Faulkner writes:

Then the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies' magazines. The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good. When the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them.

Miss Emily's life stopped moving forward at some point and the world went on without her. In response, she shut herself in her house and sent her servant out to do the shopping every week. At every opportunity, Emily ignored the changes—including refusing to pay her taxes even a decade after the mayor who said she wouldn't have to pay was dead. 

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the main character Emily Grierson is stuck living in the past within the isolated reality that she has both been forced into and that she herself has created.  Early in the story, the local authorities go to Emily's house to talk to her about paying property taxes, and Emily refuses to pay, insisting that the mayor has relieved her from ever paying taxes again.  She is unaware that the mayor died ten years ago.  Similarly, when Homer Barron decides that he no longer wants to be in a relationship with her, she arguably kills him to make sure that he "stays" with her.  She cannot handle being abandoned by him and does not want this aspect of her life to change.  The resistance to change in the story is symbolized by the state of the Grierson house which stands unkempt among a neighborhood that has forged on into the present.

shilpamini | Student

Throughout the story, this resistance to change is clearly evident in her staying locked inside her home, not cleaning or changing the bed sheets or pillow covers after her heartbreak, but even before that, this fear of change is evident in her remaining single untill she meets Homer Baron. It was probably because she was afraid of change and not ready to accept any that she stayed alone and unfortunately her father too contributed to her tragedy by supporting her and encouraging her in her stubborn and haughty rejection of men.

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A Rose for Emily

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