Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

pic was taken from here

The story’s setting is after the civil war and it takes place in the Southern part of America. At that time many aristocratic families started to disappear. People did not respect other people only because of their nobility any longer, but people respected others because of their achievement. Therefore, people from aristocratic families who still held old dtradition—that they must be respected because of their nobility—became the center of attention of townspeople because of their awkwardness.

We can see the example in Emily Grierson’s family. Everything Emily does gets full attention of the townspeople because it is considered awkward. For example, her reluctance to pay tax because she says that Colonel Sartoris has remitted her taxes. It is awkward because everybody else pays tax. The tale that her father has lent some amount of money to the town is unbelievable for younger generations.

Another example of Emily’s awkwardness is her behavior toward the ladies who call at her house to offer condolence and aid after her father passes away. She says that her father is not dead and se refuses to dispose the body. It must be hard for her to be left alone. She does not have anybody else to talk to after her father passes away because she does not socialize with other people whom she considers common people—not noble like her.

Her interest in Homer Barron—the foreman of the construction company—is also considered awkward by the townspeople. Homer Barron who is only a day laborer must have a lower status than Emily who keeps her dignity as a noble person highly. Therefore, their relationship attracts the townspeople’s attention. They want to know whether the relationship will lead to a marriage because “Homer himself had remarked that he was not marrying man”. With Homer Barron disappearing, the townspeople become disappointed. They do not know what has happened, only after that, Emily is very rarely seen.

That’s why Emily’s death makes the townspeople pour into her house. Some want to show respect for the last noble person in the town. Some others just want to fulfil their curiosity to see the inside of her house. Their finding a man’s body lying in the bed in a room upstairs revealed long-time hidden secrets. The first secret is about the awful smell spreading that makes people disgusted years before. The second is about Homer Barron’s disappearance. I believed that Emily has poisoned him using arsenic she buys in a drugstore. After Homer dies, Emily treats his body like she treats a husband—the body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace. From the iron-gray hair found in the pillow beside the man, it can be concluded that for years Emily sleeps there as is she slept with her husband.

What a sad life of a woman who keeps her dignity and nobility highly. People in the town always pay attention to her from a distance. However, no one dares to get close to her because of her perverseness and imperviousness. Besides that, nobody loves her so that she lives in loneliness because she herself avoids other people’s presence around her.

Jogja, April 2003

What a sad and lonely life Emily had. It must be resulted from the un-readiness and reluctance of people to adapt themselves with the new social life; in this case ‘noble’ people who unwillingly faced the fall of the aristocratic society.

To add my writing above (which I wrote five years ago), I want to focus on Emily’s weird attitude related to Homer Barron. As the only daughter of the only left aristocratic family in the town, Emily must have got a very big burden to live her love life. She was expected to have a love relationship with a man from her kind. However it must have been very difficult since her family was the only aristocratic family. Besides, the townspeople considered her family ’antique’. None of the guys in the town had courage to get close to Emily, I assume. Nevertheless, the townspeople loved Emily so that they poured all attention to her, to anything she did, without realizing that in a way it doubled Emily’s burden.

Feeling lonely as well as disturbed by the continuous attention given by the townspeople, Emily became very introvert and she hid herself inside her big house. Therefore, when Homer Barron came to the town (as an ‘outsider’, it is understood if Homer didn’t share the same reluctance shown by the other guys in the town), got courage to get close to her, Emily did not want to lose him. However, it didn’t take a long time since Homer soon found out the ‘awkwardness’ of Emily as well as the high expectancy of the townspeople for Emily’s husband-to-be. He was considered not equal to Emily. Therefore, he wanted to leave Emily, to come back to where he was from.

Not wanting to lose the only guy who had courage to get close to her, Emily did the weirdest action—killing him. She did it not to get rid of him, but to ‘keep’ him always instead. Afterwards, she treated him as if he were her husband. In order not to make the townspeople curious, she mostly hid herself inside her big house, laid off most of the servants but one most loyal servant to take care of her.
PT56 22.54 190508

No comments: