Study Guide

A Rose for Emily Visions of America

By William Faulkner

Visions of America

Section 1

[…] only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps – an eyesore among eyesores. (1.2)

The narrator doesn't approve of Miss Emily or the surrounding area. As a townsperson, or people, the narrator is dissatisfied with this segment of America. What does this vision of America say to you?

[…] he who fathered the edict that no N**** woman should appear on the streets without an apron. (1.3)

Colonel Sartoris has a nasty vision of America and what it is to be an America. In moments like this we see the story's condemnation of that old view: as readers, we don't think too kindly of Colonel Sartoris. In the 1930s, when this story was written, any stance against discrimination, however slight, represented another step towards the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Section 2

and the only sign of life about the place was the N**** man – a young man then – going in and out with a market basket. (2.1)

This is a vision of America in transition. While Tobe seems to be stuck in the past, he is in motion, a motion that culminates in his walking out the back door at the end of Miss Emily's story.

Section 4

Then the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies' magazines. (4.8)

Here we have another picture of America in transition. Miss Emily's former pupils did not want their children exposed to the way of life Emily represents. If their children had been involved with Miss Emily, perhaps they would have been bound to the past, as this "newer generation" is.

Section 5

[…] some in their brushed Confederate uniforms […]. (5.2)

That these men still have their old uniforms from the Civil War means that they are even older than Miss Emily.