The symbols of “A Rose for Emily”
Symbols in the story enrich meaning expanding the possibilities for interpretation and for reader’s interaction with the text. The symbols in this story, the house and the watch, potentially have the power to open up the texts in the whole story. The two symbols in “A Rose for Emily” build to a memorable conclusion of the whole story. In the entire story, the sense of something being a miss is ever present. One of the symbols is Emily’s watch. Emily uses it as a means to control time and, in the same context, time always haunts her. There are several ways to look into how time functions in the story. In this context, time is symbolized by something else like the marks of decay or a watch.
The events in the story are fractured and disjointed so that time does not proceed in a linear fashion. It is clear that Emily’s attempts to stop time failed. Since in the story Emily is shown as a woman living in the past, the readers of the story will assume that the presence of the watch is made to ensure the impression that she cannot see that time in the watch has moved on. The picture the pale plump woman in the musty room with the watch invisibly ticking does indeed suggest that she has been left back in time and that she remains unaware of the progress around her. The watch as a symbol enriches both the depiction of the character and the story’s theme.
The second symbol in “A Rose for Emily” is her house. The house acts as a symbol of the South’s past glory as well as a refuge, a fortress, and a hiding place. The house represents society with its rules, norms, and limitations. The house’s “stubborn and coquettish decay” serves as a reminder of a way of life that is dead but unburied. William Faulkner takes the symbol of the big house again to stand for class, wealth, and prestige. The house, on the other hand, is rotting at its foundation and the only occupants are Miss Emily Grierson and her silent Black Butler who rarely comes out of the house.
The role of symbols
The symbols serve as a presentation of the assumption that the past which was slavery can be forgotten in the present. The symbols help us to follow the story fairly closely and watch the narration of events as they unfold. This is not only because of Emily’s refusal to adjust and change but because of the incredible changes in the world around her which leaves her behind as a relic. The watch and the house in the story have their basis in Emily’s feeling of being different and better than the ordinary men and women, but her real reactions are described in terms of the motivation in individual and social psychology that the story portrays.
Through the symbols, Emily becomes an emblematic picture of a lost cause of good old days, of a time when women knew their place and had few if any outlets for their anger and frustration they face in life. As for the narration, the symbols inform very special use of a first person plural narrator and perspective on the events like funeral. They also depict the oppression and deprivation seen in Emily’s situation shared by many female characters. Her opposition to change and the importance of time and change in the story are clearly shown through the symbols. Through the symbol of watch it is clearly shown that Emily refuses to accept the passing of time or change at any point of time.