Emily Grierson: A Victim of the Old South Many distinguishing traditions andrules were curated in the time period known as the Old South.
While few selectcustoms might have spread into current society, many ideas such as slavery and arrangedmarriages have slowly faded out. Women in this time period were looked upon asobjects and held no responsibility for themselves. William Faulkner’s “A Rosefor Emily” illustrates the unbefitting events that victimize women in the ideasof chivalry, formal manners and old-fashioned tradition. Chivalry is known as kind, well-manneredand selfless behavior, especially by men for women.
The chivalry described in”A Rose for Emily” includes stereotypical concepts of the male as the main financialprovider and women as stay-at-home caregivers. The main character Emily isportrayed as a conventional Southern woman. Emily has never dealt with money orany household affairs. To verify her victimization of chivalry, after herfather’s passing she hires a negro man to handle her errands and undertakings.
Subsequentlyafter her father’s death, she insists that her father is not dead. As a youngwoman, Emily’s father did not allow her to live her own life; therefor when hisdeath occurred, the only life she had ever known died alongside him. Emily Grierson was raised singlehandedly by afather who enforced a sense of formal manner. Coming from an honorable familyshe might have felt that she was also held to a higher standard. Townspeoplegenerally regarded Emily as overconfident and a model daughter of Southernnobility.
Her formal manner takes a turn for the worse when she can no longerescape from society’s expectation of women. The people of the Old Southbelieved it was proper manner for women to stay home and to leave only forgroceries. “Colonel Sartoris, the mayor fathered the edict that no negro womanshould appear on the streets without an apron” (Faulkner 30). Furthermore, herfather’s strong belief in Old Southern standards presumably meant that a suitorof the New South would not be acceptable for his daughter, so he drove off allmen ever interested in his daughter. In today’s current society, ideas thatwere considered old-fashioned then would now be considered ancient. In “A Rosefor Emily”, the town is beginning to progress, while Miss Emily choses to stayin her own reality.
Midway through the story, a new love interest is introduced.Homer Barron, a Northerner and foreman of new town construction, begins to findinterest in Emily. Homer is used as a symbol of the story almost as anantagonist, opposing Emily’s old fashioned belief in a fixed society. Shebecomes so victimized by her immovable customs that she believes there is onlyone way to make sure Homer does not disagree and leave her—murder. Throughout the story, Miss Emily is seento be a symbol of the Old South. The symbolism here is presented when Emilydies, bestowing the lasting remnants of the Old South to die with her. WilliamFaulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” illustrates the inappropriate proceedings thatvictimize women in the ideas of chivalry, formal manners, and old-fashionedtradition.
Sadly, until the day of her death, Emily is enslaved to the ways ofthe Old South.