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A Rose for Emily - Feminist Approach

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Feminist Approach

In Faulkner short story, "A Rose for Emily", the plot takes place in 1894 which promptly paints a portrait for the reader to digest. In the late 1800's, women were considered to be beneath men on the strata of society. The story takes place in a time before women were given equal rights such as voting or even getting jobs; women were expected to take care of the husband, the children, and the home and any women who were found deviating from this social norm were frowned upon. In this short story, Emily is portrayed as being the co-dependant and mawkish woman as expected in accordance to the time period. Where Emily ostracizes herself from the stereotypical expectations of women is how she reacts to change, the change with the death of her father and the development of society with the reconstruction of the south.

Faulkner immediately opens the short story with a "lengthy fifty-six-word single sentence that both encapsulates a community's reaction to death and displays an immediate authorial compulsion to describe a scene through gender differences" (Curry 1). This sentence is significant as it enables the reader to immediately recognize the social stratifications of women and men during this time period and prepares the reader for the societal differences to come later in the story. Faulkner also addresses this social hierarchy through the description of Emily's father and her reaction to his death. After her father's death, Emily is said to have gone out very little which also accounts for her co-dependence she had on her father. When Emily is first confronted by the tax collectors, she does not greet them as a usual woman of that time period would have with offerings of beverages and open arms; she merely acknowledges their presence and when asked to pay her taxes she repeats "I have no taxes in Jefferson" (82-83) and eventually demands her negro servant to "show [the] gentlemen out" (83). This treatment

Emily gives the collectors gives the reader reason to believe that Emily sees herself as a higher prestigious level of class which opens the door for future complications throughout the story. Faulkner also establishes the difference between Emily and the typical townswomen by saying that "a few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received..." (83). The word 'temerity' connotes that the ladies had reason to be discouraged from calling Miss Emily, indicating that Emily may not be popular among the female community of the town. Once more, Faulkner identifies the reign of power and influence of males over females in his description of Emily's relationship with her kin in Alabama after her father's death, "there had been no communication between the two families" (85) "they had not even been represented at the funeral" (85).

As the South continues to grow and change, there are fewer and fewer individuals of the town who share the same views as Emily. According to Floyd C. Watkins, Faulkner presents change between "past and present, South and North, the old and the new, the tradition and the traditionless..." (508). The only members of the town who seem to understand and respect Emily's position



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