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The Role of the Watch in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

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The Role of the Watch in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

Even the casual reader of William Faulkner will recognize the element of time as a crucial one in much of the writer's work, and the critical attention given to the subject of time in Faulkner most certainly fills many pages of criticism. A goodly number of those pages of criticism deal with the well-known short story, "A Rose for Emily." Several scholars, most notably Paul McGlynn, have worked to untangle the confusing chronology of this work (461-62). Others have given a variety of symbolic and psychological reasons for Emily Grierson's inability (or refusal) to acknowledge the passage of time. Yet in all of this careful literary analysis, no one has discussed one
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She resists change because for her change will alw ays involve loss. She must prevent time from passing if she is to hold on to what matters to her. Her desire to keep her life from changing is further evidenced by her reluctance to have her father's body removed and buried and by her refusal to allow str eet numbers to be attached to the door of her beloved family home.

The extreme example of her need to control change, to keep time "in her pocket," is her poisoning Homer and placing him carefully in the upstairs room. The townspeople have joined forces with the representatives of her own family and are on the verge o f separating her from him, just as earlier they separated her from her father. Homer alive and active in her life has become too serious an affront to those around her. The only way she can keep him with her is to arrest his activity and to suspend his vi tality. As a corpse, this Yankee outsider will be less offensive to the sensibilities of the closed Southern community. (Evidence exists of the town's complicity in Homer's murder. Their knowledge of Emily's purchase of the arsenic, followed by Homer Barron's disappearance and the subsequent odor surrounding the Grierson house indicate at least some level of community awareness of what had happened.) More important for Emily, however, Homer will now stay fixed as a part of her life forever.

The consequence of Emily's attempt to keep things from changing is that time for her loses its
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