What are we told stands in front of the fireplace at Miss Emily's house?"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In William Faulkner's gothic short story, "A Rose for Emily," in Section V the two female cousins come to visit Emily after the death of her father.  On the following day, townspeople come to look at her

beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the craypn face of her father musing profundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre...

Earlier in the story in Section I, this same portrait "on a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace" stands over her as Emily confronts the deputation from the Board of Aldermen, telling them that she has no taxes in Jefferson because her father had made arrangements in the past.

Symbolically, this portrait that dominates above the small Emily represents the patriarchy of the Old South, the domination of Emily as the daughter of a wealthy southern gentleman. Clearly, Emily has lived in the shadow of this domineering father who sent away suitors in her youth.  In after his death, she has not been able to escape his powerful influence as she cannot adjust to the New South represented by Homer Barron.

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A Rose for Emily

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