The short story A Rose For Emily written by William Faulkner is a tale about an old woman named Emily living in the town of Jefferson. The story is written in the classic Faulkner method of a streaming consciousness. A Rose For Emily illustrates the theme of decay in the town, the house, and in Miss Emily herself. Set in the early nineteen hundreds, the story opens with the town finding out about Emily’s death. The story is told by an unknown narrator who lives in the town of Jefferson. We learn of the life and times of Emily, and her relationship with the town, her father, and her lover. At the end of the story we find out about the disturbing truth that Emily Grierson was hiding.
As Emily grows older so does the town that she has lived in for her entire life. While she had once lived on one of the nicest streets in Jefferson, the street in now considered to be one of the worst in the town. It would seem that the street had aged and decayed with Miss Emily. In her youth, Emily and her family were respected and known as some of Jefferson’s finest citizens. As Emily has grown older the town sees her in a different way. In her old age she is seen as a monument to the past that is never seen outside of her house. All of the respect that her father had earned died with the old men and women of the town. The old ways of the town of Jefferson decayed and passed away with all of the men and women that had called it home.
The house that Emily lives in was at one time one of the most beautiful homes in the whole town of Jefferson. In Emily’s youth the house was always well kept. As Miss Emily aged so did the house she lived in. The house became an eyesore for the entire town. With faded paint and an unkempt yard it even began to smell at one point. The men of the old Jefferson would never tell a lady that her house smelled so they cured the odor themselves. It would seem that the house and Emily where connected in a way. Both of them had grown old and lost their splendor. The house was also looked at in the same way as Emily. They where looked at as a monument to the past.
Emily had once been one of the most beautiful ladies in Jefferson. With her father alive no man dared to court her. As Emily grew older she began to decay and lose some of her looks. In her old age she became a fat and gray haired old women. It would also seem that her mind had decayed as well. She had one love, Homer Barron, which the town had believed had left her. It is revealed at the end of the story that he in fact did not leave Miss Emily. Emily had poisoned Mr Barron and left his body in her bed. Emily’s mind had decayed to such a point that she was not aware of what was right or wrong. She could not even understand what was normal. The state of mind that she was in explains why she and the house had decayed to such a point.
While Faulkner had many themes in “A Rose For Emily”, the theme of decay was the most prevalent throughout the entire story. The town of Jefferson, the house, and Emily all grew old. Miss Emily lost her mind and her looks. The house lost the beauty it once held due to old age. The town of Jefferson changed and grew old. What had once been a nice southern town had decayed. William Faulkner truly wrote a wonderful story about an old women who loses her mind. “A Rose For Emily” shows the way in which we all grow old and decay.