A Rose for Emily In “ A Rose for Emily”, by William Faulkner, Emily Grierson faces many tribulations in her life. Every aspect of her life is deteriorating and death is a main factor in this. As time begins to fade so does every part of Emily; her appearance, her family, her friends, and eventually herself. Emily’s relationship with her father is more involved than any other father daughter relationship. After his death Emily’s life begins to spiral out of control and nothing is the same ever again. Emily’s father is extremely protective of her through her entire life.
Her father “ had constantly interposed himself between Emily and any male interested in courting her”(Scherting,400). Although not clearly stated by Faulkner, many believe there is incest in their relationship. “ Emily Grierson was possessed by an unresolved Oedipal complex”(Scherting,399). For a long period of time Emily’s father was the only man in her life. He provided her with love and cared for her, so much that at his death she refused to give up his corpse. When Emily’s father passed away she was in denial.
When the neighbors came by the house to show their sympathy, Emily came to the door and told them her father was not dead. She acted as if nothing was wrong, dressed in normal clothes showing no sign of grief. Emily kept this attitude up for three more days never allowing anyone to take her father corpse from the house. Finally, right before the town was going to take legal action, she decided ton abide and burry her father. “ And the people of Jefferson in removing his corpse, had robbed her of the only man in her life”(Scherting,401).
After his death Emily was never the same and her life truly began to deteriorate. She lost the only relationship she ever knew and the only male influence on her like she ever had. “ Understandably, then, his death was an extremely traumatic event in her life-so traumatic that she could not consciously cope with it”(Scherting,400). After he father’s death Emily went into seclusion and her appearance completely transformed. Prior to the death Emily was a healthy normal looking women. After the death “she was sick for a long time”. When she reappeared she had cut her hair short, making her look like a young girl. Emily regressed into her childhood. This explains why she was sick for a long time after her fathers death and why, during her seclusion, she cut her hair short, making her look like a little girl”(Scherting,400). One reason from Emily “transforming” into a small girl is to bring back memories of her father. He was the only man she had in her life and the only on she loved for a long time. Emily now had no male influence in her life and there was no way she could continue living like that. Her life was now beginning to turn into a new direction. Emily’s attachment to her father was soon transferred to a surrogate male”( Scherting, 401). Emily starts to find new male attention in Homer Barron. Homer is a northerner who comes to the South to find work. During this time Homer and Emily begin an affair that baffles the town of Jefferson. Every Sunday when Emily and Homer went on their buggy rides, their relationship was put on show for the whole town. The attitude of the town never bothered Emily. Emily was looked down upon because of Homer’s background and this was to much for some women in town to handle. Emily’s affair becomes complicated when the ladies of Jefferson, determined to end the scandal, encourage the Baptist minister to reason with Emily”(Scherting, 401). After failed attempts by the town to get her to end the relationship with Homer, Emily’s cousins come to town to talk to her. Although Faulkner never reveals what is exactly said during this conversation one can assume. Due to events that occur right after this meeting, it is safe to assume that Emily’s aunts gave a ultimatum- “ to either marry Homer or stop carrying on with him”(Scherting,402).
However, early in the story it is mentioned that Homer is not a marrying man. Emily panicked and knew she could not loose another man in her life, especially the man that is now filling the void of her father. Emily knew Homer would never marry her, so the only way to keep him hers forever would be to murder him and keep his body with her. “ She simultaneously murdered and “married” Homer Barron”(Scherting,402). Emily’s life now faces a new level of deterioration and changes dramatically. Both men she has ever had in her life had abandoned her.
Her father who had passes due to natural causes and Homer who would never make a life long commitment to her. In Emily killing Homer she reacted the only way she ever knew. The most important man in her life left her and she could not have it happen again, so she took things into her own hands. Emily put Homer’s body in her upstairs bed room where he could never leave her. “ Now he would never leave her bed; he would always be there to comfort her”(Scherting,402). The whole town had an inkling on what occurred in Emily Griersons house.
Upon Emily’s death the townspeople go into the house and right into the upstairs bedroom knowing exactly what to expect. In the bed they see the remains of a human body covered in dust from the time spent in the same position. Next to Homer’s body is a pillow with a grey hair resting upon it. Again, Faulkner does not give any details as to whose hair is but we can assume it is Emily’s. The hair could be a result of Emily spending time with Homer’s corpse because she never wanted to let him go. In the room downstairs the townspeople find Emily’s body.
Her head is raised up on the pillow, which has turned yellow and moldy due to lack of sunlight. Emily’s whole life was controlled by time. Her father took up her entire childhood, robbing her of her innocence. Because of her father’s actions Emily regressed back to her childhood trying to fill the void of her father. Realizing that Homer would never marry Emily resorting to killing him so she could have him, a representation of her father, for ever. Keeping Homer’s body shows us that Emily could not let go and never had a true perception on time.