The Passing of Time in A Rose for Emily, by William Faulkner

Decent Essays

The most inevitable aspect of time is that it continues to move on, and it forces people to move with it. In his story “A Rose for Emily,” William Faulkner illustrates the passage of time as it affects the southern hometown of Miss Emily Grierson. The narrater relates the town’s recollections of Emily’s life—the unmarried daughter of the late mayor who does not want to pay her property taxes—and eventually her death. The Gothic and horror elements of the story add to the sensational tale of an unstable spinster and her morbid secrets. On the exterior, the story seems to be the product of the townspeople’s general curiosity of an estranged and lonely woman; it takes on the character of a gossip story or a folk tale. However, a closer look at Faulker’s treatment of Emily in relation to the rest of the town indicates that the story has a larger purpose. Emily becomes a fixture in a town that continues to adapt, and her refusal to change with it leaves her classified as archaic and isolated. While an initial reading of “A Rose for Emily” would suggest that that the story is about the eccentrics of Emily Grierson, Faulker’s perspective and use of temporal shifts reveal that the story in fact illustrates the tension between the past and the present, and ultimately displays the danger of refusing to accept the passage of time. 
 The most significant facet of Faulkner’s structure is his use of the narrator, who portrays Emily’s isolation. In the first sentence of the story, the

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