Isolation in A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner Essay

The main themes of A Rose for Emily are isolation and loneliness, tradition versus present, and the gap between generations. The story is about a woman whose life has been filled with apathy and sympathy. In this story, Emily isolates herself from society, due to events from her past. Excessive isolation can cause loneliness in anyone’s life. In A Rose for Emily, the author seems to describe that such isolation can cause someone to do appalling acts. Miss Emily has a hard time adjusting to the present time era. She wants everything to stay like the old South and cannot adjust to any change. Also, Miss Emily cannot handle the gap between generations because she believes everyone and everything should stay as is and it should never change because that is all she knows about.

In A Rose for Emily, the gap between the generation of Colonel Sartoris and the new board of alderman is bridged by Miss Emily’s life. She remains in the past; however, a remnant of a time is forgotten. Her house which is, “A big, squarish 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”(409), seems stuck in the past. When the board of aldermen call upon her to demand her taxes, they wait in the parlor which is “Furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture,” where “a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray” (409-410). This theme is established in Miss Emily’s unusual interactions with the outside world. When she gives china-painting lessons to “The daughters and granddaughters of Colonel Sartoris’ contemporaries”(414) and when “The newer generation became the backb…

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… the gap between generations. The rose is often a symbol of love, and portrays an endless beauty. The rose has been used for centuries to illustrate an everlasting type of love and realism. Even when the rose dies it is still held in great reverence. Miss Emily’s “rose” lies only within the story’s title. Miss Emily was deprived of the possibility of falling in love in her youth, so then she isolated herself from the world and denied the reality of change. Miss Emily was denied her rose, first by her father, then by the townspeople, and then by Homer Barron. With Miss Emily, and the use of the “rose” as a symbol, we were able to interpret that Homer Barron was Miss Emily’s only “rose.”

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Story and Its Writer: An Introductory to Short Fiction. Eighth ed. Bedford / St. Martin’s: Ann Charters, 2011. 409-15. Print.

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