A Journey Through the Conflicted Heart Essay

Abstract            Reading is most probably one of the most helpful communication skills of a person. It develops a lot of internal things within a person—the critical thinking skills, creativity, imagination, etc. Because of reading, a person finds him- or herself through journeys unimaginable. However, there is such a thing as critical reading and mere reading to the point of just seeing the words. This paper will look at a perspective of critical reading. When a person does critical reading, he or she reflects and makes assumptions based on the thinks he or she has read.

In this reading of William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, assumptions are based on what has been read.A Journey Through the Conflicted HeartWilliam Faulkner wrote of a Southern genteel era in conflict with human desires and a changing world.  It is a South so misplaced, so alien in the era of iPod, MTV, and Facebook. A Rose for Emily seemed to be one of those Southern stories wherein one can learn old truths about traditions and historical pasts like in the movies The Story of Bagger Vance or The Yaya Sisterhood.  It is macabre with a twist so unexpected that it does not register until after several blinks of the eye.Miss Emily begins as a tragic victim of her father’s rigid pride.

One could not help but picture frailty itself, but Faulkner describes her physical appearance as, “…a small, fat woman in black…” (Faulkner, 2007, p. 79). This was disconcerting; her own plumpness was opposite of the southern dignified lady stereotype, one with a neck so stiff it can break by itself.

Imagining her as one who would be the kind that gracefully descends an antebellum staircase, like a faded Scarlett O’Hara, it would only be one instance of a twist; nothing seemed to be what it seemed. Moreover, expecting an unrequited love kind of story at the beginning, as each paragraph was read, as each word unveiled itself, it was like a gentle descent into the world wherein poisoned love is figurative as well as literal reality. Thinking that she is a victim of a tyrant of a father and a restrictive society, one begins with sympathy for the suppressed Miss Emily. Yet, there is that unbending will that was able to defy a contingent of politicians and a backbone that endured the pity and gossip of a community.

By the time the end is reached, everything could be plausible, even acceptable—that within that suppression, death and murder were inevitable.  There was always that hint of madness in between everything, that refusal to accept reality.  How easy it was to understand how one woman can accept the rigors of society but be maddened by the truth of reality.

Faulkner’s is often described that he writes about a person’s conflict within himself/herself. With this short story, he explores the realm of human acceptance, of the perverseness of a life gone mad.  In the end, the unbending will and stiffened pride caused a broken heart and a broken mind.  There is no other way to explain Emily Grierson but that of a heart in conflict between its needs and desires and its pride and identity. There is no recourse but to kill because of this conflicted heart, to be maddened by it—the decaying life, the corrupted heart. From where one stands, the human heart is a vast realm but in one instance, that confusion is cleared and understood—underneath everything, the human heart will always have the will, the desire to be free to make a choice, and that is a truth that no Facebook account or iPOD can reveal.

ReferenceFaulkner, W. (2007). A Rose for Emily. In R. DiYanni (Ed.), Literature, Reading Fiction, Poetry, And Drama (p. 79–ending page #). New York: McGraw-Hill. 

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