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Death as Central Theme in A Rose for Emily - Book Report/Review Example

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Death as Central Theme in A Rose for Emily

Five actual deaths are discussed or mentioned in passing, and there are obvious references to death throughout the story (ariyam.com., 2007). The narrator first recollects of Emily's funeral. He reminisces that it is Emily's father's death that prompts Colonel Sartoris to remit her taxes ''into perpetuity.'' This leads to the story of the aldermen attempting to collect taxes from Emily.
The narrator's description of Emily is that of a drowned woman, or a living dead. In the story, past events show how they have affected the main character, especially her mental state. She may appear to be physically alive, but dead to the world outside. She seems to live in a sort of fantasy world where death has no real meaning - an indication that to this person, there is no difference as to time and physical state of being. To her, then, change in one way or the other is not welcome.
Miss Emily is one of those persons for whom the distinction between reality and illusion has blurred out. For example, she refuses to admit that she owes any taxes. When the mayor protests, she does not recognize him as mayor. Instead, she refers the committee to Colonel Sartoris, who, as the reader is told, has been dead for nearly ten years. For Miss Emily, apparently, Colonel Sartoris is still alive. When her father dies, she denies to the townspeople that he is dead -
Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not deadJust as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly" (Brooks and Warren, 1959).

The incident shows Miss Emily as refusing to accept or even recognize the death of her father or that of Colonel Satoris. She does not want to acknowledge the fact that the world around her is changing; therefore Miss Emily surrounds herself with death as in dead bodies for as long as she could keep them.
The first unusual element that catches the curiosity of the reader is the mention of "the smell," which happened "thirty years before" (Brooks and Warren, 1959). The smell, however, continues to persist, rapping on the reader's curiosity for attention. As to the significance of this infernal "smell," Faulkner chooses to tell us only enough to keep us guessing, diverting us with the four men who "slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork" with a single man forming a "regular sowing motion" with the lime in his hand (Brooks and Warren, 1959). The mysterious smell leaves in several weeks and Emily has aged to the point of near death.
Faulkner used symbolism in the title of the story. A single rose can represent so many different things. A rose can represent love, respect, and sadly death (Roe, 1997). In the story Ms. Emily was loved by many men of the town but they all were forced away by her father ("Collected Stories," 1995). At her funeral, they all brought roses with them. The rose may represent love and respect they and the others have for her. The rose also symbolizes death - physical and mental. Emily may not be clearly a sick or twisted woman; she is a woman fighting for her right to live and be happy as much as she can. It is the damage that was inflicted upon her that coexists within her from the moment her father dies till the moment Homer Barron leaves.
Emily, being highly concealed by her father, had to live with many restrictions of life, resulting in a ...Show more

Summary

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner (ariyam.com., 2007) is the story of an eccentric spinster, Emily Grierson. An unnamed narrator details the strange circumstances of Emily's life and her odd relationships with her father, her lover, and the town of Jefferson, and the horrible secret she hides…
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Death as Central Theme in A Rose for Emily essay example
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