Importance of Human Interaction in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
Are human beings responsible for the well being of others that they come into contact with? William Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily” considers the significance that human interaction has or does not have on people’s lives. Faulkner creatively uses a shocking ending to cause readers to reevaluate their own interactions with others in their lives. Throughout the story, Faulkner uses characters that may relate to the readers more than they want to admit. Homer Barron, the construction worker from the North, and the residents of Jefferson are used to expose the opportunities, although different, they are afforded to affect the life of Emily Grierson, who is the town’s recluse. Faulkner offers Homer and the townspeople opportunities to affect Emily’s life, and the story tells how these humans react to Emily and her situation. Ultimately, Homer and the townspeople choose not to intervene, and thus the devastation of Emily’s life is inevitable.
First, before human interaction can occur, an emotional response has to be provoked. Faulkner uses human curiosity to provide the opportunities that Homer and the residents of Jefferson will have to affect Emily’s life. At one time, all people would have wanted to be included in the same social class to which Emily and her father belonged. Just as in Faulkner’s own life, the Civil War changed life in the South forever. Emily is now a misplaced icon as industry has taken over her street, and the once-beautiful house is decaying and oddly out of place among the garages and the machines. Faulkner refers to Emily’s house as “an eyesore among eyesores.” Like her house, Emily has fallen out of grace, and the townspeople …
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…d leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.” So desperate for human contact, Emily has been sleeping next to a dead man’s body. No one in the whole town had the slightest human insight to see this lady’s predicament of needing human contact. Faulkner could be drawing attention to the proximity of a desperate person in the reader’s life and could be questioning whether or not the reader will react once he acknowledges the need. The world needs more human interactions that overcome fear, hatred, and death. If curiosity evokes action and if this action produces guidance, not necessarily conformity, then human beings truly can have a significant effect on others’ lives.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Collected Stories of William Faulkner. New York: Random House, 1950.