In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, both Emily and the towns people constantly show the quality of being scared of change as this fear of change is a reoccurring theme within the story.
When Emily' father dies she enters a state of denial and the first glimpse the reader gets of this is when she is asked about it. Her father had been her caretaker, provider, and protector. He was the most important figure in her life and he gave her a stable way of life. When the towns people spoke to her about his death, "she told them that her father was not dead" (Faulkner, 31). Emily was very aware that her father had passed. She purposely chose to not believe what had happened. Since he had been so over protective and controlling all her life, she got accustomed to only having him around and only trusting and loving him. Change is difficult for all of us and she was so afraid of how terribly uncomfortable and difficult adapting to such a big change would be that she pan iced and therefore entered a state of denial.
The town then discovers that all this time she had been keeping her father with her presumably pretending he was still alive. She would not let the townspeople bury him so she kept his body in her home for three days. Her unwillingness to bury him proves she wants him to remain by her side despite his passing. Scherting explains, "His death was a loss to her which led her to relate change with loss from then on". His death may have been unexpected since she kept his body, she was shocked he had left her life and felt lost. Understandably, this terrible experience effected her greatly. She no longer had someone to tell her what to think or do. She'd always been taken care of by her father, he had always protected her from pain and sadness because he kept her away from men he thought would hurt her. He taught her to fear change so when his death occurred she panicked and she didn't know what else to do but what he had instilled upon her.
Emily finds comfort in living like she did when her father was with her. However, she cannot control the fact that since he is gone she will have more responsibilities. She deals with this sudden change in lifestyle by choosing to do things the way they've always been done. "Emily lives in Isolation and is imprisoned in the past. In her mind, she does not think it necessary or likely for her to adjust to the changing society. In "A Rose for Emily", Emily refuses to pay tax and justifies herself by saying Colonel Sartoris has exempted her from the duty. What she does not know or pretends not to know is that "Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years." She does not accept the passing of time; neither does she accept change, nor the loss that accompany her, symbolized by the fact that she refuses to cooperate with modernization in the postal service, answering the tax notice on "paper of an archaic shape in a then flowing calligraphy in faded ink. Refusing to adapt to the new way of life, Emily has to suffer from the loneliness and bitterness of being apart from the outside world " (Du, 21). Du identifies the occurrences in the story that most support our argument. She does not welcome any new change or acknowledge some of the old changes because she realizes that by accepting her situation she is accepting that her father is gone and that pain is too great for her, hence her stubborn attitude.
The towns people were well aware of Miss Emily's reluctance to change. They considered her attitude stubborn and slightly mocked her of her traditional timeless outlook. " Only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting it's stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons" (Faulkner,1). The narrator brings to the reader's attention that her house stood apart from the rest, it remained unchanged despite modem industrialization. Even in today's society, we consider our house a representation of ourselves, Emily's house was a representation of herself. The town considered her a symbol more so than a person. "For the town people, she is the symbol of the old times, and her death signifies the fall of the old tradition" (Du, 21). They had strong traditional values and thought of Miss Emily as a perfect embodiment of what a classic southern woman should be.
The towns people are devoted puritans, they expected a woman to act a certain way. Even though the world around them was changing and improving every day with things like gas stations and mail boxes, these people held firmly to their traditional beliefs. Instead of being happy for the fact that Miss Emily had a man in her life that was not her father for once, they are disgusted by her behavior and deem it socially unacceptable. At first they mocked her for being such a traditional woman, later they insisted she stick to their traditions and expectations of her. The towns people refused to let Emily change because they had idolized her. "Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer...even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige." What is more, the ladies force the Baptist minister to call upon Emily to interfere with the dating, but in vain. At last, the minister's wife writes to Miss Emily's relatives in Alabama to stop her disgraceful behavior (Du, 22). Du points out that she has grown up in a conservative society of devoted puritans who are not in the business of changing their views no matter what the circumstance (Du, 22). The south was the last to abolish slavery, it has a history of refusing to change despite new discoveries or less ignorant outlooks on life and people.
Emily's town itself is so stubborn and closed minded that Emily struggles to please herself and society. She does not like change yet near the end of the story the reader begins to realize she notices that it is inevitable and crucial for personal growth. When she shows signs of accepting this truth at last by showing interest in Homer, her town tried to intimidate her and force their beliefs upon her because they too do not want things to change deu to their fear of what the outcomes may be. "Gradual changes have taken place in the South, and the invasion of the northern industrialization has also found its way in the southern society and intruded into the minds of the southerners. But the southerners are still associated with the outdated traditional modes of thought; they are desperately submitted to the old way of life. Miss Emily is the victim of the southern womanhood" (Du, 22) The people of her town are aware that because they have the same values and beliefs they are united. This gives people comfort because they know they can always turn to a neighbor if they need anything therefore they all live the same way and live in fear that if they don't, their neighbor will fail to help them if they ever encounter a time of need.