Discussion Topic

The role and significance of Homer Barron's character and his death in "A Rose for Emily."

Summary:

Homer Barron's character and death in "A Rose for Emily" symbolize the clash between the old South and the new South. His relationship with Emily represents her resistance to change and the societal expectations of the time. His death, revealed at the story's end, underscores Emily's desperation to maintain control and preserve her way of life.

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In "A Rose for Emily," who is responsible for Homer Barron's death?

Miss Emily Grierson is responsible for the death of Homer Barron in William Faulkner's classic short story "A Rose for Emily." Miss Emily is depicted as a tortured soul, who grew up under her father's authoritative guardianship. After her father passes away, she initially refuses to acknowledge his death and rarely leaves her home. Once Homer Barron arrives in Jefferson, he begins courting Miss Emily and the entire town disapproves of their relationship, because they feel Miss Emily is dating below her social class. The community members also mention that Homer likes men and overhear him saying that he was not a marrying man. Miss Emily then purchases arsenic from a local pharmacy and refuses to give the pharmacist a reason for her purchase. After Miss Emily purchases the arsenic, Homer Barron is never seen or heard from again. Miss Emily's arsenic purchase coupled with Homer Barron's disappearance implies that she murdered him. There is ample evidence to suggest Miss Emily is mentally ill and capable of murdering Homer Barron. The fact that Miss Emily's gray hair is on the pillow next to Homer's skeleton also implies that she was engaging in necrophilia. One could also argue that Miss Emily's father is indirectly responsible for Homer Barron's death. If he would have allowed Emily to date local men, socialize with her neighbors, and had not been such an oppressive force in her life, she may have developed into a sane, rational woman, who would not be capable of murdering anyone.

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In "A Rose for Emily," who is responsible for Homer Barron's death?

Readers are left to assume that the arsenic that Miss Emily Grierson bought from the druggist is the agent that killed Homer Barron, her erstwhile gentleman companion, whom the narrator and others assumed to have been her fiancé. After Emily bought an engraved toilet set and nightshirt that were obviously for Homer Barron and no wedding was held, Homer Barron disappeared. It is apparent that he had not planned to marry her, and because of her social standing, Emily could not allow her reputation to be compromised in that way, since she had been seen publicly so often in Homer Barron's company. Since Homer Barron's decomposed body was found in Emily Grierson's home, it seems that it could only have been her who killed him. She had the means (arsenic), the motive (shame at being rejected), and opportunity (as he was a frequent visitor).

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Who is the antagonist in "A Rose for Emily" and why is Homer Barron's profession and origin significant?

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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Who is the antagonist in "A Rose for Emily" and why is Homer Barron's profession and origin significant?

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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