Expectations in A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner Essay

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Expectations are everything, which is the ringing truth in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” The short story is centered in a post-civil war setting that shows how the views and values of the southern aristocracy change over time. A single narrator acts as the voice of the fictional town of Jefferson to tell the story as a whole through flashbacks and flash-forwards that tell the life of Emily Grierson, a woman from a very rich and elevated family in their society. Through the story, we learn that Emily is never permitted by her father to marry because none of the suitors are good enough for his daughter; after her father’s death, Emily, as the last living member of her family, begins to deteriorate to proportions that are not …show more content…
The more industrialized north was expanding their ways and traditions to the south, leaving the Antebellum Era as little more than a memory (Fang 19). This need to hold on to some aspect of the past explains why the town is so protective of Emily and willing to allow her to deny change (Dilworth 261).
At first, Emily is seen as “the common property of the town… a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation,” this allows her to refuse to conform to the new ways of life that are occurring all around her (Faulkner 79). This is seen when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor, does not make Emily pay taxes after her father’s death because he knows that she cannot afford them and that her bankruptcy would shame her. It is interesting that the mayor creates a story to tell Emily so that her pride will not be damaged (Faulkner 79). The story is so ludicrous that the narrator explains, “Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it” (Faulkner 79). But as time passes and a new generation steps up in society, the old ways and values of the south begin to disappear, and with it, the tolerance for Emily’s refusal to change (Dilworth 252). From the death of Emily’s father to the time when a new generation takes charge, Emily is viewed differently. She is no longer

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