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Emily's Life Essay

1193 words - 5 pages

Chen Peng
Interpretation of Literature

In William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, recurring imagery of time passing demonstrates the tension between the past and the present in Emily’s lifetime, which reveals the negative impacts of the backward traditions of the past on her destiny. In this way, Emily both embodies and is affected by the changing times. She is, in so many words, a metaphor for the decay of the old era.
Miss Emily was seen as a monument because of her dignity and tradition in her time. As a result, she had always reminded herself that she was supposed to be a legendary figure whose story would be told to the next generation. She was expected to have ...view middle of the document...

In the past, she was “A focus and a care” (284) in the town. Because of her special identity, the mayor remitted her tax as a privilege after her father died. She was gradually used to this privilege and ultimately took it for granted. As time went on, however, the newer generation came into power with its more modern ideas, which led to the old arrangement being questioned and opposed. At this point, the change of time generated a sort of tension stemming from the disagreement between the old and the new that bothered Miss Emily. When requested to pay her tax as anyone else did, Miss Emily directly refused by leaving “The front door closed for good” (290). She had even “Alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it” (290) for many years. Because the treatment of the newer generation to her did not sit well with her, in her mind a woman from the upper society should be looked up to and given deserved privileges, especially in her town. This stereotype, which was a heritage of the Southern tradition, ate at her every moment and made her unable to adapt to the new circumstances. Rather than acknowledged her duty as a citizen in the town to pay her tax, she turned down all of the obligations on which she was supposed to take as well as all the kindness that people had offered. She pretended that she “Vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell” (286). In effect, however, what she did was just hiding away from the world as she saw had changed. The “Thirty years” (286) that had passed in her life created her inner insecurities and doubts about the traditions that she had relied on all through her life.
It was exactly this kind of inward insecurities that had damaged her love and marriage, which became overwhelming nightmares to her, nightmares that would constantly trigger the tension in her soul all through her life. Realizing time had no longer on her side Miss Emily forced herself to make a change. It really surprised everyone in town when she fell in love with Homer Barron-a Northerner, a day laborer. Because what she had been doing was actually a breach to her culture. Even though she “Carried her head high enough” and “As if she had wanted that touch of earthliness to reaffirm her imperviousness” (288), she was indeed suffering...

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