"A Rose For Emily"
Formal Short Essay

Samah Syed

ENG1120 Section E
Dr. Melanie Sexton

March 6, 2014
University of Ottawa
Topic 6. Examine a story in which you feel the setting is critically important. Explain what the choice of setting contributes to the story.

In William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily", the author emphasizes on the details about setting and atmosphere. This gives the reader a general background as to the values and beliefs of the characters, helping the reader to understand the motivations, actions and reactions of Miss Emily as well as the rest of the town. Due to this reason, this changes the mood or tone in the story. In "A Rose for Emily", a woman confines herself in her large house in a small town during the early half of the twentieth century.
The setting in "A Rose for Emily" is Faulkner's fictitious post-civil war Jefferson, a small town in the deep south of the United States. The town is isolated and the people of the town seem to value this quality, however they highly lack progression in social change. Faulkner's use of this particular time-period is successful in giving the reader an understanding to the values and beliefs of the characters in the story. The town of Jefferson is a fallen legacy. The hierarchical regime of the Griersons and the class system of the time, where by law of the mayor-Colonel Sartoris, a Negro woman could not even walk the street without an apron, had changed completely. It has changed into a place where even the street on which Miss Emily lived, that had once been the most select, had now been encroached and intruded. Both the town and Miss Emily herself now looked upon Miss Emily as the only remainder of that greater time. This gives the reader an understanding of the mindset of the "town," who is narrating Miss Emily's story to us in a form resembling a gossip circle, where stories of various townspeople are pieced together and of Miss Emily, the protagonist who lived alone except for her lone servant.
Emily's house is where Emily spent most of her life in isolation after the death of her father. Externally it is considered to be "an eyesore among eyesores" (Faulkner, 320). It is amongst cotton gins that have been put up after homes that previously resided on the street since they had moved out. Her house is illustrates the picture of decay amongst the newer building. This also signifies Emily's position in the town, or the town's position on the rest of the world. The town is small and isolated on one hand however, on the other hand, Emily has isolated herself entirely from the rest of the town and seems to cling on to her past even more than the town itself.
The interior of Emily's house "…smelled of dust and disuse - a close, dank smell" (Faulkner, 321). When the houses' parlour was seen by some guests, it was described by the narrator as "…furnished in heavy, leather covered furniture…the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motions in the single sun-ray" (Faulkner, 321). The townspeople rarely set foot in Emily's house at her discretion, so there is this notion of decay and death which matches the owner who "…looks bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue" (Faulkner, 321). Emily's house remained, as it is for such a long period of time, despite of its antiquity. Emily's strong insistence that she can still find happier times through the past is shown through Emily's actions by staying inside the confines of her home. She does not want to lose that illusion that at one point in her life, she controlled time and the house and how her actions reflected this trait.
The actions of Miss Emily range from eccentric to absurd but it is the readers understanding of the setting that keep the story believable. Miss Emily becomes reclusive and introverted after the death of her father and the separation from the "Yankee-Homer Barron" (Faulkner, 323). It is also revealed at the end of the story that