The Struggle Between Past And Present In 'A Rose For Emily'

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William Falkner’s “A Rose for Emily” presents a wide-angled view of Miss Emily Grierson’s life by presenting the story through the perspective of the townspeople as a whole. Through this portrayal of the story, it is obvious that Miss Emily doesn’t cope well with change; instead she fights to hold onto her old way of life. Holding onto the past, Miss Emily refused to adopt modern amenities such as the free postal delivery, and failed to become the southern aristocrat everyone expected her to be. By staying planted firmly in the past, Emily has alienated herself from the present; she has walled herself up into of her house and is out of touch with reality. In order to live, people must adapt and change to ever evolving social environments, …show more content…
One of the most obvious symbols within a “Rose for Emily” is Miss Emily’s house. The house acts as a buffer between Miss Emily and the time that is passing outside. As such, it can be viewed as a symbolic metaphor for the struggle between the past and present; on one hand the house is advancing in age physically, however on the other hand, the house is stuck in history, as its physical features have not been updated. Faulkner describes the house as being “a big, squarish [sic] frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street” (Faulkner 220). From this single sentence, Falkner conveys that the house has stood idly by …show more content…
While the town council is in Emily’s house, Faulkner particularly states that, “they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain” (Faulkner 221). While this may seem like a trivial detail, the fact that the pocket watch is hidden from view shows that Emily is trying to hide the passing of time. If she can’t see time passing, then is time really moving? However, the watch is eternally tied to Miss Emily by the gold chain that Faulkner describes. As Milinda Schwab stated in her critical analysis, “Emily 's attempt to halt the movement of time, like any such attempt, is doomed to failure, and the thin gold chain attached to Emily 's watch show just how completely she is ‘chained’ to precisely that which she thinks she has controlled.” Emily believes that she is controlling time by isolating herself from the outside world, however as time progresses it is obvious that time itself is controlling Emily; it is because of time the Emily’s father is dead, and it is because of time that Emily feels isolated from the world. Even though Emily tries to hide the watch from view, the chain tethers her to the watch and as such is “an object of the present, it connects Emily to the watch, constantly reminding her of the passage of time”

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