Throughout life, everyone eventually loses a loved one who makes a huge impact within their lives. William Faulkner nails it perfectly in “A Rose for Emily”. As humans, trying to get through the pain and moving on can be a difficult task, no matter how strong one may be. In times of uncertainty and suffering, many people find a relaxation in familiar surroundings. Not only that, but changing our daily lives can be just as hard. This is where a concerning problem may prevail that holds no positive outcome. In “A Rose for Emily”, this is the dominating theme all through the story.
The main character, Emily, stays within her “big, squarish frame house that once set on the most select street” (Meyer 99). In her hometown, she could be perfectly characterized as traditional. With times changing around her, Emily keeps to herself without developments to the outside world. By doing this, it shows the first part of how hard it is for her to change. No matter the differences that surround Emily, she sticks with her customs. Lack of social skills with other ladies in her hometown stands out as evidence as well.
Emily never left her house and everything she needed was brought to her. Adding to the issue, Colonel Sartoris explained to her that she had no taxes in Jefferson. When Sartoris passes on, she refused to pay her taxes due to what the Colonel has told her. Not only that, but Emily refused any modern mail. This only piles on top of her hardheaded ways of not changing. With her father passing, she became even more unsociable than before. In her deteriorating house, Emily is left as a mystery to all of the townspeople. Her lack of social skills progressively got worse.
For example, when Emily buys the poison, no one thinks a thing about it because they assume she will commit suicide. Instead, she continues to live with a strong stench emanating from her house. However, no one bothers to ask Emily and suspicion does not arise. Not even Judge Stevens would let anyone say anything to her because it would be disrespectful to say her house reeked. An issue with change also stands out as a key part of evidence with Emily. Even with her father’s passing, two pictures hang within Emily’s house to represent she still lies with his grip.
Since Emily has been a mistress for most of her life, she finally finds Homer Barron who sparks a fire inside her. Homer works for a construction company and is hired to work on the town’s sidewalks. “The saddest thing about love is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is forgotten” (Soldiers’ Pay 314). By saying this, it shows that Emily’s relationship with Homer is coming to an end, so she proceeds to kill him. After committing this act, she then keeps Homer’s body laying next to her in bed.
Of course when Emily passes away, the first room that is opened is the room where Homer’s decaying body awaits. Along with change, insanity rises as a harsh result to Emily’s mindset. As a woman whose life was under the influence of her father’s strict ways, love never sparked during this era. Ignoring her father’s opinions and words of wisdom, Emily falls for Homer who holds a smaller stature. This is where her built up madness comes into play. Emily enters a store to request poison from the druggist which raises a red flag to the reader.
She does not clarify her reasoning for the odd plea but law requires a clear case upon request for such items. Finally, the clerk gives in and delivers the poison to her. At this moment, her madness sparks into a relentless fire. Occurring at this time period, the Civil War reigned throughout the South. A fight between the Northern states and the Southern states arose as a brother versus brother war. This left a national stamp in American History; even decades after the event. In the Old South, a land of endless plantations with large houses and high interest in cotton lays upon the region.
Today, it is seen as an odd site when we hear that the time period was a “free” country when the word slavery was a major factor in the war. Intense slave labor for crops like tobacco, cotton, indigo and sugar made farming easier. The North opposed slavery and although it took place in those states, the numbers never reached the height of slavery in the South. The entire Civil War can be characterized as insular, foolish, and radical. A difficult epoch of life left many men joining the army and women remaining at home to support the family.
Although the Union army required soldiers to be 18 years or older, many young of them were under the mandatory age limit. Even poor men sought the war as a huge opportunity in their austere lives. Sooner than later, every man eventually found out that war was nowhere near luxurious but instead found it boring and terrifying. While the war made a more difficult impact in the South than in the North, the Civil War was a catastrophic event to both sides. The Union, or North, made it strenuous on the Confederacy of the South by blockading their ports.
Shortages of food and other important items took a toll on Southerners who demanded it. When the Union plowed through the South, they destroyed much of the land and farms that lay within their path. The lack of food in the South eventually led to an innumerable amount of riots. Even more damaging to the Southern heritage was the drastic drain to the overall population. Eventually, a huge change to the roles and positions of slaves made a huge impact on the Southern people. Taking into consideration of how may whites treated the African Americans, they were terrified of what withheld their future.
Building upon change, the end of the Civil War signified an end to the Old South’s era. Many southerners refused to re-develop to the changing conditions even with their era of greatness long and gone. Being forced into a modern Northern environment made them more than uncomfortable. The memories each of them cherished held the attempt to keep a traditional way of life. Emily remains one of the numerous representatives to support the Old South era. Like others, Emily cannot bear the idea of parting with their old way of life. With times changing around her, Emily remains the old custom woman she always has been.
However, she still sits as a lonely widow with extreme bitterness to the outside world. Locked away from her selfimposed dark world within her withered home worsens her thought process. Emily was bitter to everyone who would not accept the fact she wanted to be left alone. Relying on her father for companionship, her resentfulness just continues to build upon itself. While Emily has a hardship with revisions and new things, she also encounters a problem with moving on. Another piece of evidence strikes at an odd side of this situation.
When Emily’s father passes away, she keeps his deceased body in her household and does not allow a burial. Her father controlled her life when he was alive and as soon as he died, she felt lost and alone. Therefore, she keeps the body in order to think he still lives with her and is continuing to control her life. By doing this, it relates back to her struggles with big modifications. Emily could not move on without the control of her father. A quote from Gavin Stevens (a William Faulkner character) can perfectly sum up Emily’s situation by saying “The past is never dead.
It’s not even past” (Requiem for a Nun 72). In the end, adapting and moving on can be a harsh obstacle in anyone’s life. “Instead of feeling a sense of happy anticipation about the prospect of change, you might feel immobilized by a flurry of fears” (“Fear of Moving Forward” 1). No matter your race or gender, life can be a huge pain in the butt anywhere at anytime. This can apply to anyone, including Emily, who dismay adjustment in their lives. If one stays within their “shell”, they may lose their state of mind. Being locked up in a repetitive life can destroy someone from the inside-out and drive them insane.