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Themes in A Rose for Emily

William FaulknerÆs A Rose for Emily embodies a variety of significant themes. Among these are such concepts as isolation, loss, and the conflict between tradition and modernity. The theme this analysis will discuss revolves around the ôdisplacedö individuals of a former era (ôtraditionö) who often become isolated and alienated due to a changing world around them in which they cannot or will not engage. Miss Emily Grierson represents such a displaced person.

Miss Emily Grierson grew up during the old South, a time and era before the Civil War when gentile manners, family heritage, and social standing were highly valued in society. The Grierson name is an august southern name, a once majestic and powerful family name that the town now remembers mainly as nostalgic. For Miss Emily has endured the decline of the old south and now lives in a changing world she is unable to accept. Miss Emily lives in her own world, removed from the touch of modernity, time, and change. To the townsfolk, she is a ôtradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the timeö (Faulkner 149).

Miss EmilyÆs predicament is illustrated by Faulkner using a variety of techniques, particularly symbolism. The rundown family home in which Miss Emily resides stands as a symbol of the conflict between outworn tradition and insensitive change:

garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; and only Miss EmilyÆs house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gasoline pumpsùan eyesore among eyesores (Faulkner 148).

Miss Emily is as stubborn in her refusal to accept the changing environment all around her.

Miss Emily has evolved into a relic of the past; an individual who cannot exist without her illusions that the past way of living and even people from it have passed away and moved on. She informs people after


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Themes in A Rose for Emily. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:04, May 29, 2020, from