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Applying Social Anthropology to Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily


Applying Social Sociology to Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

Literature has actually constantly worked as a terrific resource for recording the past. Despite its imaginary qualities, its ability to represent people of a particular generation makes it a valuable instrument to help social anthropologists characterize societies. In specific, William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily supplies information about the Southern American people in the early 1900s. Reflecting on the story’s characterization and angle of narrative, readers can easily develop a view of Southern individuals’s mindsets and worths.

Specific attitudes and worths are shown in the story as it concentrates on a single major character, Miss Emily Grierson. Born in an aristocratic household in the early 1900s, Miss Emily is bound to send to strict family guidelines and traditions that her society imposes, one of which is providing utmost regard to her dad, who raises her up on his own.

Imagined as a woman with extremely strong attachment and dependence on her dad, Miss Emily discovers it too tough to carry on after the death of the old male. Such suggests the value the Southerners provided their family, particularly their parents, however likewise exposes the downsides of authoritarian parenthood practiced in those times.

With her dad as her only guide, Emily is treated with preciosity (West 193). This makes her think that she is various from other ladies, which no man genuinely deserves her. This mindset significantly affects the way she relates with others, especially with males. Her daddy’s limitation on her, which is mainly due to the social standing they try to maintain, badly impacts Miss Emily’s view of life and relationship.

As the story suggests, preciosity leads to a mental imbalance, which is intensified by the loss of her daddy. Her rejection to bury her dad, her murder of Homer, and the years she spent sleeping with the latter’s cadaver recommend a distorted mindset and family orientation.

In Littler (cited in Akers), Faulkner himself expressed compassion towards his character. This discusses the reason he created Miss Emily’s character. Having observed the impacts of noble household system, Faulkner tries to make his readers feel outrageous about Miss Emily’s fate, thus implying the requirement to revisit particular family values practiced during his time.

However, while his attempt to supply social criticism might arouse compassion towards females like Miss Emily, it may also trigger readers to mock the characters and the society they live in thinking about the story’s angle of narration.

Told by limited-seeing narrator, the story suggests predisposition on the part of Miss Emily and even the townspeople. Beginning with the lead character’s funeral service, the storyteller may be assumed to be of more youthful age than Miss Emily. If the story begins with Miss Emily’s youth, readers may be led to think that the storyteller is Miss Emily’s modern.

However, because it highlights not only the funeral service however likewise the gothic elements (Littler, cited in Akers) in Miss Emily’s life, one may be inclined to think that a lesser accessory exists between the storyteller and the primary character, regardless of Faulkner’s expression of compassion towards women like Miss Emily.

As the narrator comments, Miss Emily has actually been “a custom, a responsibility, and a care; a sort of genetic commitment upon the town.” This statement supports the view that more than compassion, Miss Emily’s character is considered with contempt and ridicule. Significantly, the narrator highlights occasions leading to Miss Emily’s fall and the town’s discovery of her insanity.

The regard that individuals when had is all of a sudden lost together with the death of her dad. This indicates that individuals paid respect to Miss Emily and made her a “responsibility and a genetic responsibility” owing to what her father has actually provided for individuals, and not due to the fact that of the method she conducts herself in society or how individuals feel usually about others.

Although divided into 5 parts, the story presents three timelines particularly, the remote past, the instant past and today. The remote past tips on how Miss Emily is raised in privacy and is made to believe that nobody deserves her. The immediate previous includes her daddy’s death, Homer’s disappearance, Miss Emily’s purchase of a rat poison, her refusal to pay land taxes, and the nasty odor from her home that individuals complain about.

These two timelines present ideas that could lead readers to a contemptuous response towards Miss Emily’s character. Moreover, today time where individuals discover “a long hair of iron-gray hair” even more recommends the abnormality in Miss Emily’s life, making her appearance more awful and pesky.

Considering the angle of narrative, it is more conclusive that readers would see Miss Emily’s characterization in an unfavorable view. The occasions causing her tragic end represent Miss Emily in an unfavorable way, hence soliciting an unfavorable response from the readers and suggesting how the narrator feels about the primary character.

Nevertheless, it is equally important to think about that the shift in timelines suggests modification in the method people regard Miss Emily. It should be kept in mind that the Old Grierson’s death is what brings Emily to her failure and the reduction in the quantity of regard she gets from the next-door neighbors.

This modification in the people’s treatment of a when respected figure mirrors the way Southerners value family credibility and custom. As the storyteller exposes, individuals regard Miss Emily for what her father has done for the neighborhood. Honoring people’s contribution to society is a sign of respect still shown by the Southern American society until now. Nevertheless, in the case of Miss Emily, questions regarding her morality and privacy likewise lead the people to feel otherwise.

The change in the way people deal with Miss Emily also mirrors the shift that gradually deciphered in the South throughout the time of industrialization (Kriwald 3). The obligation to pay land taxes was among the modifications enforced during that time.

As the story reveals, imposing such modifications had actually been extremely tough with individuals like Miss Emily who refuse to accept their commitment, and insist on former practices. This angle reveals the struggle of some individuals versus change and industrialization side by side with the government’s problem to impose new laws. Such concepts function as extra files for Southern social anthropology.

Highlighting the negative elements in the life of Miss Emily, the narrator similarly mocks the society that permits Miss Emily to act in the method she does. First, by retelling how the dad boundaries the young Miss Emily to the house, the storyteller recommends dispute with this type of training.

Second, exposing the method the druggist relents to Miss Emily’s wish to get poison without telling him the factor for purchasing such implies the objection of the storyteller towards the regard the druggist offers her, which subsequently causes the death of Homer. Third, stating the method the servants and the authorities keep their silence regarding problems on the foul odor coming from the Grierson’s house, the narrator clearly presents a criticism of social standards and behavior.

As the eighty-year old Judge Stevens argues, “Dammit, sir, will you accuse a woman to her face of smelling bad?” Such incapability to examine and impose the law reveals the clash in between following societal norms and controling laws. As the narrator reveals, Judge Stevens selects to follow the standard than to defend his position. On the other hand, the next-door neighbors grumbling about the odor suggest their opposition to the judge’s habits, therefore revealing preparedness to comply with the law and subsequently reserved social standards.

Faulkner’s revelation of the way Miss Emily’s character is formed by her household orientation solicits much compassion from the readers. However, examining the story from the point of social anthropology, one can not avoid however to see the important perspective by which the author depicts the character and the society that tolerates her acts.

At the end of the story, the respect that individuals provide Miss Emily at the time of her death and the people’s suggested reaction to the questionable problems in Miss Emily’s life indicate a combination of the society’s regret and disgust– regret for supporting social standards instead of the laws, and disgust for both Miss Emily’s gruesome past and the society’s insensitivity to the seclusion that individuals like Miss Emily experience.

Works Mentioned

Akers, Donald. “A Rose for Emily.” Short Stories for Students. Detroit: Windstorm, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 May 2010.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” N.d. 17 July 2009 <

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