Miss Emily as a Symbol of the Post-Civil War

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MissEmily as a Symbol of the Post-Civil War

Thestory “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner illustrates the waythat Miss Emily has the pride that is in contrast to the immoral actsshe commits. The illustration of Miss Emily’s life also gives aclear picture of the struggles and the healing process that the Southunderwent after the Civil War. The story uses Miss Emily as thesymbol of the Southern region since her behaviors reveal pride andher reluctance to undergo the change just like the South did afterthe Civil War. This essay illustrates how Miss Emily is arepresentation of the Post-Civil War based on the way that sheretains the traditional values of the region, and she is reluctant toembrace change.

Faulkneruses Miss Emily as an illustration of the stubbornness that old Southportrayed after the Civil War. More specifically, the South refusedto change its past behaviors and embrace the new generation after theCivil War. Evidently, after the Civil War, the South was reluctant inleaving behind the traditions and embracing themodern ideas.The hesitation that the South had also applies on Emily, who seems tobelieve that the modern ideas are not appropriate, and they shouldonly support the traditional ideas instead. In this case, the storyshows how Emily was a woman who believes and values her past, and shecannot embrace change or civilization that the war had brought. Shewas also heartless and had the pride that her family accorded her.For instance, Faulkner shows that “Miss Emily met them at the door,dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face” (Faulkner,2.8). The description illustrates how she was unable to have a senseof humanity and passion too. Evidently, she was a symbol of theSouthern manners and the past values given that she was reluctant tocomply with some rules and guidelines that the new governmentpresented. Even when the officials warn her about the taxes she issupposed to pay, she seems hesitant in agreeing that she owesJefferson any taxes.

MissEmily also does not believe that her father was dead and she refusesto allow anyone remove the corpse an element that illustrates herunwillingness to participate in the healing process after the CivilWar. The reluctance to make a change shows that “Miss Emily hadbeen a tradition, a duty, and a care a sort of hereditary obligationupon the town” (Faulkner, 1.3). In the same way, the South refusesto undergo the healing process that will make them forget theirdefeat during the Civil War. Emily is even portrayed as an outcast,and she is never seen out of the house and she rarely accepts peopleinto her life showing how she will not embrace a change brought bythe Civil War. Faulkneruses Emily to give a true picture of the attitude and the strugglesof the South after the war. The reluctance to undergo the healingprocess is evident in the way that also the town does not accuse MissEmily of the murder but, allows her to retain the secret so thatthey can preserve the honor and myth of the South. Thefact that they are able to protect such secrets shows theirunwillingness to make any progress in the healing process.

Inconclusion, Miss Emily is a representation of the post-Civil War ofthe South since she still embraces the traditional values and she isnot ready to embrace the changes that the revolution had brought. Itis evident that she still believes that the past values were moreappropriate and they should keep practicing the same rules. Suchassumptions even prevent her from embracing any change, and thathinders the healing process of the South instead.


Faulkner,William. Arose for Emily.California: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000.