February 10, 2004
The death of Miss Emily Grierson, is from “Dementia”. Everybody in
the community has to come visit her at death, “the men, through a sort of
respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of
curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one, save and old
manservant – a combined gardener and cook – had seen in at least ten years”
(622). In “A Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner traces Miss Emily’s
increasing dementia and foreshadows the surprise ending.
Unquestionably, there are the townspeople that have always perceived
the Grierson family. “We had long thought of them as tableau”, Miss Emily
a slender figure in white, as contrasted with her father who described as
“a spraddled silhouette” (624). When her father dies and leaves her
penniless, people are glad they can pity her. The unemotional Miss Emily
clings to her father for three days. “she broke down, and they buried her
father quickly” (624).The townspeople did say she is crazy then; they
believe she is in denial. For a long period after her father’s death, Miss
Emily is sick and remains in solitude. During the summer after her
father’s death, she is now seen by the townspeople with a Yankee day
laborer driving the yellow-buggy every Sunday afternoon. The older
townspeople think that even with Miss Emily’s grief, she cannot forget that
she has come from a family of a higher social position than to date a
northern Yankee. Still, the townspeople say “Poor Emily” (625). Declaring
her “fallen” from the high Grierson perch.
After, Miss Emily appears to come out of solitude. She is described
as “a slight woman, thought thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black
eyes in a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about
the eye-sockets as imagine a lighthouse-keeper’s face ought to look”
(625). Then, she goes to the town druggist to buy poison, “the best” –
“arsenic” (625). With the druggist thinking she is going to end her
miserable life, he gives her the poison. Instead, Homer disappears from
town, returning only once and then is visually seen by a neighbor admitted
through the kitchen door.
After Homer’s disappearance, Miss Emily returns to solitude where her
final images appear in one of the downstairs window. After her burial, the
townspeople enter her home and find that she had boarded the top floor of
her house. “Like the carven torso of an idol in a niche, looking or not
looking at us, we could never tell which” (626). The door has to be forced
open, and what they find is the skeletal remains of a man whom they assumed
is Homer. “A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon
this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the delicate array of
crystal and the man’s toilet things” (627).
In conclusion, describing the boarded up floor as being the bridal
room of when she courts Homer Barron, the man himself lies in the bed.
Throughout Miss Emily life, her father controls her; but when he passes
away, her life seemed to be out of control. Miss Emily keeps herself in a
state of dementia, foreshadowing the surprise ending.
Faulkner, William.”A Rose for Emily.”Literature for Composition. Ed.
Barnet et al. 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2003, 622-627.