A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

Flora Wittemore said “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” Emily Grierson left her doors shut, keeping out modern ideas, and closing off a rapidly evolving world.

In the short story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, as a reader’s response, Emily Grierson portrays the importance of adapting to change throughout life. Change is an important part of self growth which Emily struggles with, especially after her father’s death. Like Emily, myself and the people I know have had similiar issues. As a reader, you journey through the story learning the adjustments Emily failed to make. When you have been living in a closeminded environment you only do what you’re use to. Emily never tried to cope with her father’s death but went along with what he would have wanted.

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“We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner 3). I remember a time when I lost a family member very close to me. It was hard to deal with life without them but I managed to overcome the hardship of losing them. I mourned and will never forget about the pain it caused me. On the other hand Emily said that “her father was not dead”(Faulkner 3). She refused to believe the death of her father because she didn’t want to be alone.

Emily and I differ when it comes to personal growth. Changing is what makes a person grow and instead of making changes in her life she followed ordinary routine and continued to close off the world. Living with her father her entire life she became dependent on him and only knew of the life he gave her, never striving for something more. Unable to adapt to the new generation Emily lost the ability to become self-reliant. “Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less” (Faulkner 3).

Due to a continuously stagnant lifestyle she would never find the strength to become independent. In relation to Emily, throughout my own life I had always used my parents as my backbone. They would be my support system for all my needs: mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. As I got older I had to branch out on my own and make changes for myself. In contrast the people of Emily’s town said, “Then we knew that this was to be expected too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman’s life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die”.

Vindicated, Emily struggled to find her own lifestyle even after her father was gone. Abandoned from her father’s existence, Emily was left all alone. She resorted to the only person who had been their besides her father. “She carried her head high enough – even when we believed that she was fallen” (Faulkner 4). Homer Barron was the kind of man that wasn’t going to disappoint Emily, until he left of course.

Without Homer, Emily was deserted once again in the same place her father had left her. Most of the people in the town thought of her as psychotic because of her stubborn actions and need for isolation. There were times in my life where I was unhappy and shut out the world because I was so upset. I would stay inside and not go out because I didn’t have any motivation to do so. Eventually, I got over my frustrations and used my grief to help me grow.

On the other hand, Emily was said to look so sad that she held “a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows – sort of tragic and serene” (Faulkner 3). Emily never got over her father’s death or the fact that Homer was going to leave. She would never shake the sense of sadness until the day she wasn’t left alone, which of course was the day that never came. In the story, Emily Grierson is lifeless. She rejects change and respects only the tradition in her life.

When losing the only thing that has gotten her through she doesn’t know how to change. She clings to what was the only love she knew, refusing to let go. This story shows the absolute need for change and how it makes a person grow, and become self-reliant. Everything in her life has always been constant which has lead to a huge burden on herself and the people around her. By trying to remain unchanged the life she led resulted in death.