Respect in A Rose for Emily

Respect in A Rose for Emily

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Respect in A Rose for Emily


Miss Emily Grierson is nobody's best friend. Neither is she the enemy of any man

or woman. Life has dealt her circumstances that anyone would falter underneath. Her

personality suffers traumatically, but no one can hold that against her. Though not a very

pleasant character, Miss Emily does have the support of the townspeople in the text of

Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily." However, in the video version these same

townspeople are portrayed as snoops and critics with no kind intentions seen.

Miss Emily was not a social person after her father died, but the townspeople

understood this. The townspeople understood "that with nothing left, she would have to

cling to that which had robbed her as people will"(31). They did not hold it against her

that she had trouble handling this situation. Emily is given the "respectful affection [of] a

fallen monument"(28). Each tried in his/her own way to reach out to her. The authorities

came to her house, the minister dropped by, and "a few of the ladies had the temerity to

call"(30). Miss Emily continued on with life even going so far as to give "china-painting"

lessons. The women of the town quite willingly send their daughters and granddaughters

to learn from her.


At one point in the story, a strong stench coming from Emily's house prompts a

few disrespectful comments. Yet in spite of this, the text records that the "people began

to feel sorry for her"(30). They are not brutes; inside themselves the townspeople have

sympathy for this lady. The townspeople seemed curious about the happenings within her

house, but they are not outright mean or obtrusive. After Homer Barron comes into the

picture, the town is "glad that Miss Emily would have an interest"(31). Even in the final

moments of her life the "whole town went to [Emily's] funeral"(28). They also have the

decency to "wait until Miss Emily was in the ground before they opened [the region

above the stairs no one had seen in forty years]"(34). The text of this story portrays these

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townspeople as understanding and sympathetic, almost in a way respectful of her.

Quite conversely, during the funeral scene of the video there are hardly a handful

of people portrayed, the majority of whom are solely the family that have come from

Alabama. During the scenes when people happen to call on Miss Emily at home,

whatever their business, they always knock angrily with curiosity and demands that are

outright rude. After Emily begins her afternoon buggy rides with Homer, there is one

scene on the video where all the townspeople turn and stare and almost in a way "jump

out of hiding" after the two have driven past. They are portrayed as seemingly bent on

finding fault with Miss Emily and her relationship with Homer. In the video, none of the

sympathy from the text is portrayed nor any happiness that Miss Emily may now have a

beau. Only town gossip and rude-staring ladies are shown in the video. The video shows

not a soul other than family from Alabama at her funeral scene. Directly after the funeral,

the video shows the two women, doctor, and deputy already barging into the room no one

has entered in years before she has even been laid to rest in her grave.



Of course, the townspeople complain of the smell of her house and not all have

the most respectable reasons for attending her funeral, but they are in no way the snooty

bystanders portrayed in the video. The gossip-hungry citizens portrayed in the video are a

far cry from the sympathetic townspeople Faulkner describes in the story. Emily Grierson

is part of the heritage of the town. This standing heritage and history give her a respected

status and the ability to be accepted just as she is.


Works Cited

Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry,

and Drama. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Longman, 2002. 28-

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