A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

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Who is Colonel Sartoris?

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Megan Miller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, Colonel Sartoris is representative of the Old South. He looks down on women of color but feels the need to take care of aristocratic white women. As mayor, he is able to enact edicts that have an influence over the whole town. This includes his racist and sexist edict that "no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron" and also includes what he said to Miss Emily. Colonel Sartoris is the reason she became "a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town." After Miss Emily's father died she was alone and did not have the financial means to pay for her taxes. As a high bred Southerner she would not accept charity, so in 1894 Colonel Sartoris remitted her taxes by claiming the town owed her father a debt and would repay the debt through the tax remission. The narrator says, "only a man of Colonel Sartoris's generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it."

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Colonel Sartoris is the mayor of Jefferson and is best described as a typical southern gentleman-- which has its good and bad points. On the good side, he helps Emily by not making her pay taxes he knows she cannot afford. On the other hand, he says that "no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron."

Sartoris appears in other works by Faulkner as well, he is an important character in Faulkner's body of work, and his third novel is entitled /Sartoris/.

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Colonel Sartoris is a former mayor of the town. In 1894 he established the idea (myth?) that the town had to take care of her, and specifically that she didn't have to pay taxes. He is no longer alive, and left no record of his reasoning for later generations to follow.

Greg

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