Symbolism is often used in the story “A Rose for Emily”, but three main symbols particularly stick out. The word “rose” is important from the very beginning of the story as it first appears in the title. The word “rose” has various meanings, the first being the verb to rise. When a deputation came to visit they were showed in by Tobe, her “manservant” (pg 233), and “they rose when she entered” (pg 234). This shows a sign of respect for Miss Emily, a respect that may only be reserved for her because she is of higher class and seen as superior.
This shows how she is treated specially because of the decaying social order that makes her higher class even though she is now poor. Another very important symbol is Tobe, her supposed “manservant”. Although slavery was over, African Americans were still treated very unfairly and although they could have jobs, their jobs often resembled what a slave might do and they earned very little money. Therefore, Tobe is a symbol for slavery and many people wanting to keep their antebellum south alive and well. Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out with the market basket” (pg 239). Tobe stayed his whole life probably because, living in the house that has held onto the past, he was probably told he would not be able to find work elsewhere and could not find his place in the world anywhere other than Miss Emily’s house. Finally, Miss Emily herself and her house are the biggest symbol.
They represent the past that no one will bother and no one will disrupt because, in the town’s peoples hearts, they want to hold onto this great past as long as they possibly can, and Miss Emily and her house is the vessel for that. The house “was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome stile of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street”(pg 233-34). The house stood alone as a representation of the one consistent thing that has stayed throughout the past.
But because of all these things, issues concerning Miss Emily are often ignored, or not bothered with. Whereas, with any other citizen there would be repercussions for the actions such as not paying taxes or not stating a reason for buying rat poison. Allusions also help to portray such an image. Secondly, allusions are used to demonstrate the decaying social order Jefferson. When Miss Emily died the men attended her funeral “through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument” (pg 233).
Miss Emily here is being alluded to as an important statue or, as the author said, a monument. A monument is something that is looked up to and viewed as holy and all-important, a symbol for many people. A fallen monument alludes to a lost statue of hope. Miss Emily was the town’s hope that they may once have the antebellum south again. She was the one who lived in this past world of slavery, and the past world of her being a high-class person, in a high-class house on a high-class street. When she died, so did the last bit of the antebellum south left in the town.
An entire town relying on this one person to be their symbol of everything they don’t have anymore shows how the social order in the town of Jefferson is severely decayed. Tone in “A Rose for Emily” is also another large literary device used to show this decay of social order. Finally, tone is one of the most important literary devices used to show the decaying social order. From the very beginning you get an eerie feeling. The first 5 words of this story are “When Miss Emily Grierson died”(pg 233).
Faulkner starts the story off with the funeral of Miss Emily, which automatically establishes the tone as eerie. Throughout the story the eerie tone is continuously felt mainly because of Miss Emily and her very eerie actions. A moment in the story where it feels especially eerie is when Miss Emily buys rat poison and when asked by the druggist what she wanted it for she kept repeating “I want arsenic”(pg 238) and “Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up”(pg 238).
Even though the druggist was supposed to know why a person was buying arsenic before selling it, he clearly knew who Miss Emily was and because of this social order they have, he eventually gave in without her giving a proper reason for needing the arsenic. The fact that Miss Emily can do whatever she wants in the town shows the decaying social order. Tone reveals this as the often eerie moments and feelings are the moments when Miss Emily is getting away with something another town’s member would not.
In conclusion, symbolism, allusions and tone reveal the decaying social order in the town of Jefferson. Miss Emily was judged and watched closely and viewed as a monument by the town and her actions were often overlooked no matter how odd they seemed and how many laws she broke. The social order put Miss Emily on top until the day she died. The author well portrays this with his literary devices and leaves you with much to think about and much to discuss. Comments are closed. Rose for Emily Essay example Race, Class, Justice, and Post-Racial America By Charles J. Ogletree Response By Anna Buzbuzian