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Homer Barron

Books: A Rose for Emily

Genres: Southern Gothic

Authors: Faulkner, William


Homer Barron is a symbol representing modernization and arrival of new period and age. Homer is a Northerner, a Yankee, presenting the era of manufacturing industry, technology, innovation, and reconstruction. His purpose of coming to the South is to work for construction and renovation; paving the sidewalks of the city. His personal character also demonstrates elements of modernization. He does not care about the code of behavior which is important in Emily's community, a Southern society. The story presents Homer as a person who is not a marrying man and likes to be free and prefers bachelor life. "Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group" (31). The description of Homer Barron in the story suggests that he was a carefree person, liked parties and enjoyed meeting with others. It also demonstrates his lively character which is completely the opposite personality of Emily Grierson. Homer was a person representing present and future, and Emily can not leave her past and move ahead so she kills Homer and keep him for ever hers.

All of the symbols present the isolated and steady character of Emily, which was still and static through the passage of time. Emily's soul was covered with the dust of loneliness and dimmed by grief, sorrow and everlasting sadness. In the story "fallen monument" refers to Emily. Emily was a monument, a legend that has been ruined and shattered by the passage of time because of lack of care and attention. Not a single light of joy or happiness was in her life. Being a young woman, once she had been beautiful and attractive, but she was left alone because of the circumstances in her life. Emily lost her soul gradually through her lifetime and was actually dead long before her death.

Homer Barron, a Yankee, was the foreman of a construction company that entered Jefferson. The construction company, the "mules and machinery" they came with, and Homer himself symbolize the further encroachment of the present into Miss Emily's life of the past.

Barron's attitude toward marriage emphasized further his contrast of Emily's symbolism of the past. While Miss Emily had traditional ideas of courting and marriage, "Homer himself had remarked...that he was not a marrying man." Therefore, he was less interested in a monogamous relationship where he was forced to settle down. When Barron left Emily, for what appeared to the be a rendezvous with another woman, he was leaving the past behind him, looking anxiously toward change. Upon his return, Miss Emily poisoned him with arsenic, which killed him, and prevented him from moving on toward the future. With that action, she also eliminated the only source of change she had ever accepted in her life.

Once again, Miss Emily took refuge in her house and was never seen in public. Finally, after years of attempting to defeat time, Miss Emily fell victim to it. She met the same fate as her father, her house, and Homer Barron. "Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedarbemused cemetery" -- where they lay representing the past.

In the short story A Rose for Emily, Faulkner uses the role of male figures in Emily's life to provide important character traits. The two men in her life, her father, Mr. Grierson and her boyfriend Homer Barron lead her to become a shelled up, introverted and mysterious woman. Emily's father is her first and most influential male figure, providing the foundation for her "insane"-type behavior in later years. Homer Barron comes along later and forces Emily to revisit the tyranny of her father and the negative experiences she had with men in her past. The relationship Emily had with her father in her early years led her to have faulty relationships with men and even humans in general throughout her entire life.

From the beginning of the story the reader gets the idea that the Grierson family is one of nobility and importance in Jefferson. Mr., Grierson apparently struck a deal with Mayor Colonel Sartoris that the Grierson family would not have to pay taxes until the death of Miss Emily. This deal is one that Emily believes is to be kept, but the town quickly forgets it, showing that Mr. Grierson has put a strong sense of superiority into Emily. She believes it is to be kept, no matter what, because her family struck the deal.

Mr. Grierson is very obviously old South. His attitude towards women, as evident in the treatment of his daughter, reflects his old-fashioned ways and his inability, or his lack of desire, to move on into the future. Throughout Miss Emily's childhood, her father believed that none of the men were quite good enough for Miss Emily. Mr. Grierson did not allow his grown daughter, even at the age of thirty, to make her own decisions. Additionally, Emily did not feel it was her place to act on her own behalf. The name and attitudes that Mr. Grierson passes on to his daughter symbolically opposed the change that was going on around them.

This objection to change continues for Emily immediately after her father's death, and thereafter. When her father dies Miss Emily denies his death to the visitors coming to console her. Although she is forced to give in and allow her father to be buried, the further emphasized the great impact he had on her lifestyle and mindset.

Homer Barron was a poor, who charmed Emily and brought her back out into the public during their courtship. The fact that Emily chose to even see Homer was intriguing as far as Mr. Grierson would have never allowed it when he was alive. She was trying to think for herself, and it allowed her to come out of her grief for her father as well as free her from her reserved nature. This state was short-lived, though, as she poisons Homer when it become apparent he does not plan to spend the rest of his life with Emily.

The fact that Emily poisons Homer and keeps the body in her house is a direct result of the way her father brought her up. "Emily murders Homer barron because she must at any cost get a man" (564). She clings so tightly and is so needy of the men that she is unable to fathom life without them. She did not choose to be this way, nor did she desire to be so dependent on them. The strict, overpowering demeanor of Miss Emily's father stuck with her for her entire life and eventually led to her failure to become a successful and mature woman.

Other characters from this book: