Who/what is the antagonist in "A Rose for Emily" and why is it significant that Homer Barron is a construction foreman and northerner?

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One could argue that Miss Emily Grierson's father and the passing of time are the antagonists in Faulkner's classic short story "A Rose for Emily." Growing up, Emily suffered under her father's oppressive, authoritative guardianship and was not allowed to date the local men, because her father believed that they were not good enough for her. Emily's father had a traumatic influence on her, which negatively affected her mental state and her ability to carry on healthy relationships as an adult. The passing of time is another antagonist in the short story. Miss Emily symbolically represents the Old South, and she is not able to accept how time has altered her community and culture. Miss Emily is unable to adapt to the changing ways of life and remains secluded in her outdated home. The newer generation of Jeffersonians views Emily Grierson as an annoyance, and they demonstrate a lack of respect toward her. One can argue that Miss Emily's inability to adapt to the changing culture of the South contributes to her demise.

It is significant that Homer Barron is a Northerner who works for a construction company hired to pave sidewalks in Southern towns. Homer Barron symbolically represents Northern industrial businesses, which expanded into the South following the Civil War. The members of the New South accept Homer Barron into their community, while the older members of Jefferson disagree with him courting Miss Emily. They view Homer as being beneath Miss Emily; they even petition her cousins to intervene in their relationship. Miss Emily's relationship with Homer Barron symbolically represents the dysfunctional, futile relationship between the Old South and the North, which resulted in the Civil War.

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The antagonist of this particular story could be argued as many things depending on your personal interpretation of the literature; this is one of the reasons that this story is so great. The antagonist could be the changing of time. Emily is a character caught in the past. She cannot let go of her past, as it is shown with the dead body of her father. This is shown in the opening description of her house that stood "on what had once been our most select street". The rest of the street had industrialized and moved on and filled with cotton gins and garages, but "Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps - and eyesore among eyesores". Homer Barron is a construction worker, meaning he works to advance buildings and update the past. He is also a northerner. Put these two together and you have a character who comes from the northern states to makes a living reconstructing a southern town. Miss Emily is stuck in a glorious past that predates the war.

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