“Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
Rose for Emily is a novel about the profound tragedy of a woman who cannot come to terms with loss and cope with grief. Emily Grierson experiences her tragedy regularly; she cannot bear the loss. The story begins surprisingly: Emily’s funeral, followed by the narrator’s memories of what this unfortunate woman has become. The story of her life unfolds in a setting that plays a vital role in the story because it reflects a microcosm of the story.
The action takes place in a fictional town in Mississippi after the Civil War. Southern states have always been more traditional, and this is evident in how the population behaves after the announcement of the death of Emily’s father and herself. The people believe that it is essential to go into the deceased’s home and check on the situation there and that is how they learn the truth about Emily herself. However, the people of the South face a change: The Civil War has changed perceptions of the world, and many are still unable to cope with their new surroundings. It is precisely how the protagonist is – her constant struggle between past and present reflects people’s worries about the future. The setting sets the characters’ mood and, through Emily’s image, describes their anxiety and fear of the unknown new world they are about to enter.
The setting significantly influences the plot and the characters in the story, changing their beliefs about their microcosm. The plot adjusts to the new world: it moves seamlessly from the past to the present and demonstrates the inevitable passage of time, which prompts change. Thus, Emily accepts a courtship from “Yankee” and grieves for him more than anyone else. Through the parallel narrative, the viewer sees how much the Civil War was able to change people. The setting influences the characters: Emily is afraid of the passage of time, so she is willing to kill Homer to keep him with her. Perhaps this is the only way she can cope with her microcosm that has changed.