A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner: An Analysis of Homer Baron’s Character
In William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily, Homer Baron plays the second fiddle to the main character who is Emily Grierson. Even so, Homer cannot be described as being a minor character or an antagonist in the story. Homer, as portrayed in the story, suits that of a major character where the only other equal is Emily, who happens to double as a protagonist and a major character.
However, Homer is not a protagonist since he later vanishes only for his decomposing body to be found. The title of the protagonist suits Emily and not Homer, who is a victim of circumstances, and thus, it will be improper to characterize him as an antagonist. It is because, throughout the story, he is only against the idea of marriage. At no other point does he become a lethal enemy to the major character and protagonist in the story, Emily.
In so many ways, Homer is an outlier whose presence in the town raises eyebrows, and people distrust him. Firstly, Homer is not a native resident of the town but a laborer from the North. It is proper to note that the settings of the story are just after the Civil war and thus the existence of bad blood between people from the South and those from the North, albeit faintly. Secondly, just like Emily, whom people believe to be of a higher social class, Homer is an outsider based on his anti-marriage notions. Intensely, Homer is against the institution of marriage, and as a make-up, he likes men. His homosexual activities do not go unnoticed, and he even magnifies those assumptions by taking alcohol in the company of men at a local club called Elks.
The character of Homer is portrayed in the story as quite ironic. Notably, the name “Homer” is not by chance but is significant even though ironically. In the famous baseball game, a “homer” or hitting a home run is a play that players celebrate. “Hitting a home run” refers to the ability of somebody to accomplish things. However, the character of Homer ends up dead with his body decomposing and the killer unknown. People postulate that it was Emily, and even if she did so, she proves another point. The point is that just like a homing pigeon that is meant to get back home to an owner, Emily intended to have Homer for herself alone. She wanted to make him stay at home so she could have him around whenever needed him.
Homer’s indirect acceptance of homosexuality through his remarks portrays a conflict with societal expectations. Owing to his frequent visitations at Emily’s and the belief she finds him attractive, Homer is expected to marry her. However, in total disagreement with the societal expectations, Homer is accustomed to other romantic affiliations, including fellow men. Even though the people in town are still in conflict with him for being a northerner, the machinery and technology he stands for are meant to help them and introduce them to industrialization. Additionally, Homer, though a northerner, with the help of the construction company that is well equipped, represents a much-needed change of innovation for the people in the Southern town. Thus, Homer is indeed a major character in the story, and his influence on people in the town cannot go unnoticed, especially by someone like Emily.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Forum, 1930, p.233.