Aside from the more general characterization of Emily as a staid old monument, other forms of imagery to lend to such character creation are used to much the same end. For example, this same presentation of Emily occurs again a few paragraphs later when the narrator describes that many “thought of them [Emily and her father] thought of them as a tableau; Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background" and her farther also silhouetted with a horsewhip. While she is an object of great curiosity and mystery in her community, she is nonetheless seen as something to look at that is solid and unapproachable—like an old marble monument, although one that is decayed and representative of times gone by. Furthermore, as it has been suggested, this tableau “serves to monumentalize the icons of tradition—the wealthy landowners and their valuable possessions. Placed in figurative stone, these icons achieve a kind of historicity, respectability and permanence in viewers’ and readers’ eyes" (Doll 21). Despite character development, she is not usually depicted as real flesh and blood person, but repeatedly as a fallen monument or sculpture found in a cemetery, as when she cuts her hair short, “making her look like a girl with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows—sort of tragic and serene." At other times, she is a plump woman in black, with a long gold chain and severity of manner, which would be a familiar image to people in her town as “she is evocative of Queen Victoria, another figure who conformed to the idealizing imagination of her people" (Dilworth 255). Dilworth suggests that Miss Emily is the object of intense but distant adoration and an equal amount of disgust due to her status as old aristocracy and her constant haughtiness.

It is through characterization by the narrator that the reader begins to see visually and symbolically how Emily is a fallen monument and a fading vestige of a much more traditional, older society that valued its aristocracy and strict social systems. The narrator however, serving as he or she does as the voice of the town in many senses, both condemns Miss Emily for being part of this old society while still revering her for being among the town’s old rich. As one scholar notes, “Her symbolic value as a fetishized object of veneration is contained within the striking collocation ‘fallen monument’ which immediately reveals the narrator’s ambivalent attitude towards her" (Yagcioglu 42). This ambivalence in representation is part of what leads the narrator to liken her more to a figure carved from stone or some kind of idol, effigy, or faceless monument watching over the town. She is more myth than truth, just as any figure fit for becoming a monument in his or her old town would be. “The Faulkner narrative deals with the problems and ironies connected to upholding tradition" (Browning and Bazargan 26) and also addresses the difficulty of letting go of the past while at the same time, shunning relics from this past and their associated traditions. While Miss Emily is a fallen monument, she is also a reminder to citizens of her town of their collective past. Like a monument then, she is set up as a reminder and is forever present and alive by her legend.

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References

Browning, David, and Susan Bazargan. Image and Ideology in Modern/postmodern Discourse. Albany: SUNY Press, 1991.

Dliworth, Thomas. “A Romance to Kill For: Homocidal Complicity in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily.” Studies in Short Fiction 361999 251-62. 21 Nov 2008.

Doll, Mary Aswell. Like Letters in Running Water: A Mythopoetics of Curriculum. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000.

Roberts, Diane. Faulkner and Southern Womanhood. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1994.

“W.W. Norton Biography of William Faulkner.” LitWeb. 2007. W.W. Norton and Company. 21 Nov 2008.

Yagcioglu, Semiramis. “Language, Subjectivity and Ideology in “A Rose for Emily”.” Journal of American Studies of Turkey 2(1995) 49-59. 21 Nov 2008.