Women are known to experience the side part of love when they are able to get a man to marry them. Many of them indeed get men and are married. The society has had more standards and expectations about women than it has about men. A few women who wish to follow what the society prescribes as perfect but cannot get it from the same society end up being frustrated and miserable in their lives. In Roses for Emily (Faulkner, 1995), a short story, the main character, Miss Emily, struggles to find her place in the society. Having been influenced by her father’s demeaning attitude towards marriage, Miss Emily is unable to find a solace through love. She desires to have it and live a normal life as expected by people in her community. This story is about a woman whose story of marriage and love is sealed in her childhood in the way she and her father interacts with the people in their community.
Miss Emily’s struggle begins in her childhood with her father having a tumultuous relationship with other people. Thus, the struggle alienates her not just from the society but also from her kinsmen. As the effect of this poor relationship takes effect upon the death of her father, Miss Emily is not able to maintain a civil relationship with the authority in her town. She attributes everything, including taxes, to her late father. The parental influence in her life not only shapes her perception of the society but also the way she views her relationship with other people, including her relatives. Miss Emily’s withdrawal is not a good gesture to her community, which isolates her from the rest of the people. It is stated, “Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people” (Faulkner 34). In fact, she is viewed as a disgrace to the community by women who are supposed to assist her in her tribulations.
Social influence on the upbringing of people is evident when Miss Emily tries to interact with people after her failed attempt in marriage. The society at one point seems to be determined in helping her accept her situation. The local authority brings in men to clear up the stench from her house. However, it only happens after her neighbors complain about the stench. These are the same neighbors who wish that she gets better. They are even enthusiastic when they see her buying apparels for a wedding. They expect her to achieve good life while at the same time believing that she is a bad omen to their society. The hypocrisy of the people in the society becomes evident when she fails to show up from her house for a long time and they do not check up on her.
As an assertive woman, Miss Emily is able to resist the forces seeking to demean her. Although she seems to have a demented mind, referring the claim for her taxes to a person who died ten years back, Miss Emily is able to stand up against people who do not understand her problems. When she goes to purchase the poison, the druggist cannot stop her even though she does not reveal the reason for buying it. The druggist reluctantly says, “If that’s what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for” (Faulkner 41). She does not tell the druggist the purpose, for which she is buying it. It is the infringement of the law, which requires people tell what they want the drugs for. It is the same drug that she uses to kill her lover.
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Miss Emily is also living in a society that has expectations about a woman. As a woman, she is expected to get married. “People in our town ...believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were” (Faulkner 25). It is this social attitude towards Emily and her family that makes her believe that she cannot get a good husband. When someone, who is capable of marrying her, shows up, the same people expect her to agree to the marriage. The society feels vindicated that it is its presupposition that Miss Emily could not get married thanks to the “insanity in the family” (Faulkner 25). She is also expected to keep her body shape so that when she becomes chubby, speculations are rife that she is obese, notwithstanding her problems.
Her community contributes to her negligence of the body and indifferent attitude that she develops towards other people. Taking into account that she was an assertive woman, the society could not decide on whether to sympathize or celebrate her misfortunes. Upon the death of her father, who leaves her the house, the people are glad because they can now pity her and hope that she becomes humanize. “Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less”, they hoped (Faulkner 26). Yet, their pretense about her misery is something that troubles them since they cannot have peace when they see one of their members living in isolation.
Roses for Emily is a story that has lessons for readers. One of the lessons is that the society will never be satisfied with the condition of someone, whether they are in happiness or sadness. It means that the society can make one suffer for something that is not their fault. For instant, Miss Emily was disliked during her childhood because her father worked with people who oppressed others. When misfortunes befall her in adulthood, it is the same society that sets expectations for her while wishing that she does not achieve them. Another lesson in the story is that relationships in life, especially marriage relationships, are very important for the happiness of a person. Miss Emily is not able to establish love relationship with a suitable man.
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