The present aims to make a critical analysis of William Faulkner A Rose for Emily with special concentration upon the elements of racial discrimination and class conflict has been pointed out in the story. The main reason behind selecting racism and class prejudice as the topic for the study includes the occurrence of wide-scale ethno-racial conflicts in the American and British societies, which had been in vogue in the these cultures throughout twentieth century. Being the mirror of the existing social traits, racism reflected in the literature of modern era obtained the status of one of the most significant issues to be discussed by the writers and poets (Dilworth, 1999). Hence, the author has created the work within a historical perspective, as the blacks used to be considered the community of workers, laborers and service men, nature of relation and interaction with which could only be erected on the foundations of traditional master-slave structure.
In addition, being a gothic novel with an absurd title, mysterious circumstances, and mystical ending, the story observed great criticism since its first publication in 1930. Since the author has not mentioned any rose in the entire story, nor does the protagonist Emily Grierson obtains any flower altogether, exploration of the invisible rose has also been a matter of vital interest for the critics (Getty, 2005). However, the tragic heroine came across only one flower throughout her life in the person of Homer, though it was not allowed to get flourished in the area specific for the whites; consequently, it had to be preserved in the book of Emily memories along with its dead body delicately concealed from the eyes of always nagging social establishment.
The stories created by Faulkner concentrate upon the bitter realities of life, in somewhat mystifying but an eloquent manner, where the environment of gloominess haunts the chronicle of events leading to the development of the tale throughout. The same is applied to A Rose to Emily, which with the support of only few characters, elucis the certain existence of racial hatred and ethnic pride adding to the miseries of the humans. The author observes that despite the fact that the people are well aware of the uncertainty of life and each and everything related to it, yet they are not ready to bid adieu to prejudice, arrogance and hatred altogether from their life. The people of Jefferson town once regarded Emily as the embodiment of sophistication, sobriety and temperance, start raising objections on her character and personality because of her association with the individual from lower stratum of society (Clausius, 1996, 145).
The story alludes to the historical struggle the black community had to make during 19th and 20th centuries in order to win equal rights and status in society, which could be witnessed by going through the literary pieces created by the black writers and poets. The famous Harlem movement launched by the African Americans also reflects the injustices and inequalities inflicted upon them by the white majority. Rosa Parks in her My Story (1992) narrates how the blacks used to be treated in public places. They had to vacate their seats in buses in respect of the white passengers. The author had to undergo opposition, trials and penalties from the dominant white population (WASP), but stood as firm as rock to play her role with great honesty for the elimination of racial segregation from the public places, education and health institutions, transportations and others from the American culture. The main reason was just only her skin color that stopped her mingling with the white people as their equivalent. The same was the case with Emily, who appeared to be in love with Homer, and wanted to wander about with her black lover in the town. However, the people would not allow her to practice the same. As a result, she confined her and her lover to her residence, where she could make only casual appearances in the market and public places, while Homer was deprived of even making his single manifestation in the company of his beloved in the town. It is therefore, the people mistakenly thought that he had returned to his previous place many years before Emily death (Faulkner, 2).
The story shows that Emily had endured the loss of her father with great courage; somehow, they were unaware of the very fact that she was also enduring the death of her lover with great fortitude. Nevertheless, the lady spent several years in the look after of Homer corpse. The author appears to be revealing the bitter fact that human life witnesses gradual decline with the passage of time, along with all the objects associated to it. The story shows how Southern part of the country was dominantly populated by the white racial group, where the arrival or stay of the black individuals was looked into with great suspicion, apprehensions and displeasure. It can also be observed by noticing the arrival of the black Homer Barron in Jefferson Town, where Emily has been leading a single and recluse life as a well-off young lady. Before Homer arrival in the town, the local community had seen the protagonist walking and making shopping alone. However, witnessing her associated with a black young man was quite queer and unacceptable for them. Consequently, they started making objections to his presence in the town as a friend or lover of a beautiful white lady. Not only this that the people objected Homer for being the member of the black community, which was once slave of the white indigenous population, but also the love-affair of an individual from the lower stratum with the member of elite stratum Emily was also a matter of great concern and humiliation for the local people. Being a foreman by profession, Homer was expected to serve Emily only, instead of having intimate relationships with her. Hence, here appears the Marxist perspective that submits to state that the bourgeoisie i.e. producer continuously makes exploitation of the proletariat by refusing to grant them proper remuneration of their work and services on the one hand, and a respectable place in a social fabric on the other. As a result, society starts becoming victim of class struggle between the haves and haves-not resulting into serious conflict and disintegration in society. Moreover, the individuals, victim of deprivation become prey to alienation, and start leading a recluse life like Emily in the story under examination. Since Emily did not tolerate any interference in his life from the external world, she declared her age-old mansion as her entire universe, where she could remain happy and contented in the memories of his lost love Homer.
Although Emily kept the body of deceased Homer for several years in her residence, yet his death remained an enigma for the people of the town. The critics are not sure about the cause and method applied for the alleged killing at Emily hands. It is therefore it is also interpreted that his murder was also an outcome of conflict between the races. The critics have aptly regarded the title of the story as an absurd one in nature. It is partly due to the very reality that the protagonist leads a life of sorrow, grief and isolation throughout her life at her lonely mansion after the demise of her father. The same is applied to roses, where even the most alluring, pristine and spanking flowers have to wither and fade away ultimately after spreading their captivating fragrance in the atmosphere. Weaks (1981) observes close affinity between Emily red-colored bedroom and Homer corpse as a dried rose, where both red color of rose and red skin of Homer capture her attention and captivate her consideration. Emily also meets the same state of affairs, where she could enjoy the fragrance of the flower of her choice for very short time period only; as Homer had died several years before Emily left the world.
Dilworth, Thomas A Romance to Kill for: Homicidal Complicity in Falkner A Rose for Emily Studies in Short fiction Newberry College 1999 251-262
Faulkner, William A Rose for Emily Random House New York 1930/2006 1-5
Getty, Laura J. Faulkner A Rose for Emily The Explicators 2005 230
Parks, Rosa My Story Puffin Bokks 1992/1999
Weaks, Mary Louise The Meaning of Emily Rose Notes on Contemporary Literature