Discussion Topic

Exploring Isolation and Community in "A Rose for Emily"

Summary:

In "A Rose for Emily," isolation and community are explored through the protagonist, Emily Grierson. Her isolation is evident in her reclusive lifestyle and the townspeople's gossip about her. The community's curiosity and judgment highlight the tension between individual isolation and societal connection, ultimately revealing the impacts of both on Emily's tragic life.

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What social issues in "A Rose for Emily" caused Emily's isolation?

Patriarchy is a first social element in isolating Emily: her father has enough control over her that he can keep her apart from other people.

The townspeople do nothing to stop the isolation because they believe in the hierarchy Emily's family represents. They place her on a pedestal as an emblem of the town aristocracy. A sense of class is the second social issue isolating her.

After her father dies, Emily, who has always been isolated and dependent, has a breakdown into illness. She self isolates at this point—and her social standing and money protect her.

Emily falls in love with a northerner named Homer Barron. Again, social issues keep her isolated. The town can't accept the idea of a person of her status having a relationship with a lower class northerner.

Finally, murder isolates Emily. She poisons Homer and keeps his corpse with her in an upstair bedroom. She can't let anybody in for fear of her secret begin discovered. Her "aristocracy" leads the town to enable her isolation by refusing to question why a lady like Emily would want, for example, to buy rat poison.

First, her father isolates her, and then the town enables her to continue in this isolation by treating her as a superior being. Further, the social situation of a changing world, which Emily has a difficult time dealing with her, causes her to react by withdrawing.

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What social issues in "A Rose for Emily" caused Emily's isolation?

There are several social changes that occured within Emily's life.

The society that once witnessed old-fashioned courtships, kinships, old family names, an economy by means of hand labor, and the perennial presence of the Southern way of life is, in the story, now steadily shifting towards industralism, capitalism , social expansion, racial integration, and the view of the South as anachronistic. 

Emily is there, caught in between the two clashing worlds, without the protection of her "almighty" father, and with no ties that are strong enough to help her make the transition towards the present.

The social issue in itself is the inevitable reality of change and shifting towards the future by severing the only ties you know. This is a universal problem that happens in every generation, and needs the willingness of each individual in it to make the effort and embrace change.

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What social issues in "A Rose for Emily" caused Emily's isolation?

One of the biggest issues with Emily was her father.  He was of the "old south" where men were chivalrous and proud.  He would not let any men in to "court" his daughter because he felt that she was too good for all of them.  No man was good enough for his daughter, so she was isolated that way.  This means that she had no interaction with any outside people in the town.  She knew no one.  She conversed with people only when her father had people over.  She was very isolated.

When he died, she didn't know how to handle it.  She had never been away from him or his "rule."  In fact, she wouldn't let the coroner take his body away until after a couple days went by.  Then the first man to ever show any interest in her was Homer Barron.  He never meant to stay around, so she did what it took to keep him "around" forever.

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How does "A Rose for Emily" reflect isolation?

The protagonist of "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner is Miss Emily Grierson. She represents the "old South," an aristocratic society of plantation owners that steeply declined in power and influence after the Civil War. She is portrayed in the story as isolated in several ways.

First, she never married. She was brought up to look for a husband among people of her own social class and would have expected to marry a wealthy young man from a "good" family. Given those high standards, she never appeared to meet a suitable suitor, either due to the disappearance of the social class or her own aloofness. Suitors from other social classes were rejected by her father. She has a small or non-existent social circle due to class prejudice. When she finally does make a connection with Homer Barron, of a different social class, things end badly.

As Miss Emily grows older, the society in which she was raised disappears. Her house becomes an isolated exemplar of faded grandeur in a decaying neighborhood. She has no real contact with other people in the town, as her own prejudices isolate her from socializing with those outside her social class, and yet her social class has disappeared.

Old age also serves as an isolating factor as the very world within which she had grown up dies off and she refuses to change or adapt to the new world.

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How does "A Rose for Emily" reflect isolation?

Through the short story "A Rose for Emily," Faulkner examines the theme of isolation through the character of Emily Grierson and the traditional culture of the old South. Emily Grierson is an enigmatic, reclusive individual throughout the story who becomes the topic of the town's conversation during her funeral. Emily grew up under the oppressive authority of her father, who rejected all of her suitors when she was a young woman. As a result, Emily lived an isolated life and spent the majority of her youth at her family's estate under her father's supervision. After Emily's father dies, the community mentions that she disappears for some time. Later on, Emily experiences her first meaningful relationship by dating Homer Barron, despite the community's disapproval. However, Emily purchases arsenic from the local pharmacist and the citizens of Jefferson do not see her or Homer Barron for six months. Emily then begins growing old, and the community acknowledges,

From that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years, when she was about forty, during which she gave lessons in china-painting (Faulkner 7).

Emily Grierson remains isolated in her decaying home until the day she dies. The only time community members see Emily is when she looks through her windows and occasionally during their rare visits to her home. Emily's isolated life is a result of her father's oppressive personality and her inability to branch out into Jefferson's society. As time passes, Emily simply becomes more reclusive and cannot adapt to the changing culture of Jefferson, which metaphorically represents the decay of the old South.

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How does "A Rose for Emily" reflect isolation?

I think the concept of isolation is most clearly reflected in the life of the protagonist of this excellent short story, Miss Emily herself. Throughout the story we are shown that she lives a life that is separate from the rest of the town, and that especially in her last few years, hardly anyone saw her at all. Note what we are told in the first paragraph of the story about how isolated Miss Emily was as a character in her life:

When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years.

So, whilst it is clear that her last years were spent in isolation, when we reflect on the dominating memory that the townspeople have of her childhood, it becomes clear that her father ensured that she was kept isolated as well, and that she was never able to form any meaningful relationships because of his idea of their social status. Likewise, the descriptions that we are given of Miss Emily in her old age, when the Aldermen go and visit her about the question of her taxes, indicates that in a sense she is already dead and separated from the rest of the world through her appearance, which is described as being "bloated, like a body long submerged in motionaless water." In every sense of the word, Miss Emily is a character who is isolated.

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How does "A Rose for Emily" reflect isolation?

Emily's isolation is explored in several ways throughout "A Rose for Emily." Early in her life, Emily is isolated by her father's social pretensions. The Griersons regard themselves as superior to all the other families in Jefferson, and no one is quite good enough to marry Emily or even to be her close friend. When she does have a suitor, he leaves her shortly before her father dies, after which her isolation is complete.

Emily's isolation is of a somewhat unusual kind, however. It is symbolized by the strange old Gothic house "decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies" in which she lives alone. Instead of being the single great house in the middle of a romantic open landscape, a fitting home for a Southern belle, Emily's house is surrounded by cotton wagons, gasoline pumps, and other industrial eyesores.

In the same way, Emily is isolated but not altogether left alone. Instead, she is very different from those around her and survives as a curiosity among them, intimate with no one. She is isolated in the same way that an elephant in a zoo is: she is singular and without peers, even though everyone is looking at and talking about her. When she does have dealings with her neighbors—even when she receives an official deputation—she treats them in a high-handed manner that confirms and exacerbates her isolation.

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How does the relationship of isolation and community play out in "A Rose for Emily"?

For your introduction, start with the thesis statement and build context around that. Context will be whatever you need to say to lay the foundation for your thesis statement. You could always, for instance, explain the concept your thesis will be predicated upon in detail, perhaps giving an example of it for a hook.

It sounds like it needs to communicate a statement about how isolation and community are present in the story, "A Rose for Emily." So, you could write a thesis that says something like, "Emily is isolated by her community because she remains the same while the world around her changes." Or "Emily is isolated by the gossip circling around her and becomes more and more a hermit by the end of the story." You could take this many, many directions—just make sure it states an interpretation relating the two ideas together, not separately. For instance, don't say, "Emily is isolated because she doesn't get married and the community likes to gossip." Stated that way, the two ideas are not related. You could even take it further to be a theme statement by drawing a bigger inference about life from the story and stating the inference that way. For instance, "Communities can be isolating to those unwilling to adapt" or "Gossip is ostracizing and can bring isolation."

For the rest of your thesis, you will want to point out what aspects of the story build toward that idea. Are you going to analyze plot, character, setting, point of view—or a figurative device like symbolism, tone, diction, or imagery? Example: "Communities can be isolating to those unwilling to adapt. This is evident in the plot and the use of symbolism throughout the story." Symbols that could be explored for this thesis include the symbolism of the decay of the house, the symbolism of the title, and the plot point where Emily refuses to pay taxes. You will probably have to look at your body paragraphs after writing a draft and go back and revise the thesis.

For your conclusion, recap your main points in your body paragraphs and end with a thought your audience can chew on for awhile. This could be a quote related to the overarching idea in the text, a question, or a call to action. For example, "When it comes to being a member of a community, we are all responsible to adapt to a degree, or be left in isolation. Which begs the question: To what degree would you be willing to change to be accepted?" Or "If gossip is so isolating for the subjects of gossip, why do small communities tend to engage or relate to one another in this way. Can we find a healthier way to connect verbally than to use mutual acquaintances for our own entertainment?"

Writing requires thinking, so make sure you spend a lot of time thinking about the story and writing out your ideas. You will have to go through several drafts to write anything really solid; that is standard for every student. The weakest papers only identify, without keeping the deeper thoughts in focus, so try to focus throughout the paper on what deep idea you are trying to communicate and make sure it comes through. That idea should be clearly stated in the thesis, reiterated in the conclusion, and present through every body paragraph.

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How does the relationship of isolation and community play out in "A Rose for Emily"?

In "A Rose for Emily," by William Faulkner, isolationism and community are both prominent themes. From the very beginning of the story, it is clear that Miss Emily is isolated from the rest of the community. The narrator states that "our whole town" went to Miss Emily's funeral when she died. No one had been inside her house for ten years. While the narrator is the entire town, a collective "we," Miss Emily stands alone. This is emphasized in several ways, including the way the narration describes different events in an us-versus-her manner. Another is how the town watches, judges, and interferes with the relationship between Miss Emily and Homer. Her home, which stands alone on a once select street, without updates, is symbolic of Miss Emily's standing as the last icon of a time gone by. The separation between the town, a community represented by the narrator, and Miss Emily, an isolated individual, is emphasized as the town comments, judges, and manipulates Miss Emily's life while she stands alone as a "monument" to the town's past.

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