Emily’s death represented the death of the Old South. Her slow death serves as a reminder to the town that the older ways will slowly fade and is important despite the apparent dislike of who she is. Emily’s representation of the southern ideals will remind the people of Jefferson of their history. Because of the faults of her character, Emily has fallen as a monument for the people of Jefferson. Emily’s actions undoubtfully cause her ultimate downfall as a respected person in the town.
Another time in which Emily overgoes authority is when she tries to buy poison from the druggist. With a look, Emily made the druggist do what she wanted because she still held some authority. Despite the laws, Emily did not tell the druggist what the poison would be used for and presents the fact that she believed she was above the law. Rumors spread through the town, and it was said “it would be the best thing” if she killed herself with the poison (Faulkner 94). The complete disrespect for Emily is shown through what the townspeople think would be acceptable. Had she not fallen, the people of Jefferson would not believe that it was good for Emily to die. Instead, they would attempt to persuade her against what was believed to happen.
Despite her circumstances, the townspeople felt that respecting her was “a tradition, and a duty” (Faulkner 91). With the respect some of the townspeople had for her, Emily was able to escape rules that had to be followed. This is first exhibited when she refuses to pay her taxes by saying “I have no taxes in Jefferson” (Faulkner 92). With this statement, she was trying to stay above the law. Emily, because of her family name, believes she is entitled to do what she pleases.
The image of Emily was tattered by her involvement with Homer Barron for two reasons. The older people of the town talked bad about her interest in the man from the north. They slandered Emily for her interest and hinted at her not being a real lady: “even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige” (Faulkner 93). Noblesse oblige is the believed responsibility of someone with a high status to act with nobility. The words spoken about Emily caused the townspeople to begin pitying her. When a person is pitied, they are no longer respected as they once were. Another way in which Homer Barron hurt Emily’s reputation was by his unwillingness to marry her. The narrator mentions that “the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town”, showing the lack of respect that they had for Emily.
Just as a structured monument, Emily experiences the deterioration of the respect gives to her by the people of Jefferson. The townspeople see the way in which Emily reacts to her father’s death. Although this is not detrimental to her status, it has become weakened. The people of Jefferson attempt to repair what respect was taken from her by excusing her behavior. The narrator explains that “the townspeople did not say she was crazy then,” (Faulkner 93). It was widely believed that it was necessary for her to act the way she did.
After his death, she is viewed as a person that can be approached. Emily was now being viewed as a person, instead of an untouchable being. The townspeople view of Emily shifted from blind respect to pity. The humanization of Emily is a huge contribution to the downfall of her image as a monument of the Old South.
When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and people were glad. At last, they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. (Faulkner 93)
The first event that ruins Emily’s image of being a monument is because of her father:
The family of Emily Grierson is well respected by the people of Jefferson, so she is deemed important. Emily Grierson is a monument representing the old south because she is the last of the ones alive for the Civil War. After her death, Emily is placed in the cemetery with the ranked soldiers of the Civil War to show respect for her even after death. However, the respect that the townspeople have for her is temporary. The narrator mentions that the men of the town went to her funeral to show “respectful affection for a fallen monument” (Faulkner 91). Although the narrator directly says that she is a fallen monument, it can also be seen in the many ways Emily destroys her status.
A monument is a statue or structure that is built to honour an event, idea, or belief. Although a monument is typically a physical object that is built, a monument can also be a person. People can be monuments when they represent the beliefs of other people. In the town of Jefferson, Mississippi, Emily stands as a monument of the past. She is admired and respected because of her family’s status. In “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, Emily Grierson becomes a fallen monument because of the destruction of her social and economic status. Her refusal to follow the rules and her deteriorating mental health is destroying the image that the townspeople see her as.