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Symbolism in A Rose for Emily

William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily,” is full of symbolism. Many American Literature courses require studying symbolism. Since William Faulkner is one of the greatest American authors of all time, research papers on symbolism works such as A Rose for Emily would be required. Paper Masters custom writes William Faulkner research papers on any short story of his, even A Rose for Emily.

Among his most famous short stories, Faulkner explores the ideas of time and decay through symbols. In a A Rose for Emily, Faulkner used the following symbols to tell his story:

  • The symbolism of Emily's house
  • Symbolism of Emily's hair
  • Event the symbolism of Miss Emily herself

While the image of the rose never appears in the story, roses are symbolic of everlasting love.

Symbolism in A Rose for Emily


Perhaps the most important symbol in the story is Miss Emily’s house. The house is only seen from the outside and is largely representative of decaying Southern culture. Much of Faulkner’s work explores this theme. The house is described as being built shortly after the Civil War, but has become an “eyesore among eyesores” by the time of the story. Miss Emily, and indeed the entire Southern culture, has attempted to preserve some mythic past in the face of the changing nature of the 20th century.

A Rose for Emily

The struggle between past and present is also present in the symbolism of the single hair. At a certain point, Miss Emily’s hair turns iron gray and remains that color. Her hair turns this color at the same time she retreats from society into her house, several years after the disappearance of her beau, Homer Barron. In preserving the bedroom, Miss Emily is attempting to stop time. Miss Emily herself is a symbol of the resistance to change and desire to hold onto the past that Faulkner believed was poisoning the South.

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