In many cases, the same symbol can be used for completely different effects. How one symbol can be used for two different ideas is revealed when one compares a short story such as William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” in which a door represents the danger of a closed mind to another short story such as “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates in which a door reveals the illusion of security.
William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” features the story of Miss Emily, widely considered the town oddity because she is unbending in her ways and adamant about keeping everything exactly the same. This represents a kind of madness in keeping with the treatment she had received from her father, who insisted she always remain his little girl and always remembered her high birth status. The world of the present is strange and unrecognizable to Miss Emily, so she struggles continuously to keep it in the realm of the safe and ‘normal’ she knows – her mind is closed to new possibilities. Miss Emily Grierson is introduced as a woman who has never been provided an opportunity to become comfortable or familiar with the world outside of her father’s old world ideals. “None of the young men were quite good enough to Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau; Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door” (437). This created a situation in which Miss Emily “got to be thirty and was still single” (437), alienated from her society behind the closed door of her home.
Miss Emily’s inability to relate to the real world outside this alienation is first manifested completely when she refused to acknowledge her father’s change of state upon his death. “Miss Emily met them at the door, ...
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