Use of Decay in "A Rose for Emily"

Topics: Short story, William Faulkner Pages: 3 (1251 words) Published: April 1, 2013
Decay in A Rose for Emily
In A Rose for Emily the word decay is not only represented physically, but it can also be shown psychologically. William Faulkner’s use of third-person limited point of view allows readers to view the characters from a different perspective. Throughout the story readers do not know the actual motives of the characters, but the townspeople’s views and judgments allow them to come to certain conclusions based on the bits of information being given to them. This unique viewpoint can provide information on how physical signs of decay, like the house of Emily, her body, and even Homer’s body can be linked to the decay of Emily’s way of life and psychological stability.

Emily’s home not only shows literal signs of decay, but it also represents decay in Emily’s way of life. The home is first described in the story as being “a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street”(287). Her home is described to readers by members of the neighborhood who have been in observance of its condition over a period of time. In this first statement readers may think that the townspeople are proud of the historic home but then they go on to say that, “garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of the neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps- an eyesore among eyesores” (287). This quote gives readers insight into how the neighborhood really views Emily’s house. It shows that the neighbors view the home as not only an object of the past, but also as a constant agitation and blemish in their community. The neighbors then continue to tell readers about its physical decay by saying that her leather furniture was cracked, the formerly elaborate metals were tarnished, and that...
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