A Rose for Emily, written by William Faulkner, is a short story that takes place after the Civil War in the town of Jefferson, Mississippi. William Faulkner wrote about this town because it is very similar to the one where he spent most of his life. In A Rose for Emily, Faulkner expresses many different ideas through symbolism. A symbol is a thing which suggests more than its literal meaning (olemiss ). Most symbols are not simple and easy to interpret. They are not made to stand for one idea, but for many. They mean more than one thing, and can be interpreted in many different ways by different readers. Faulkner took advantage of the fact that symbols can be interpreted differently and placed them all throughout this short story. Symbols can vary. Symbols can range from colors, to characters or just plain statements. Faulkner uses all of these things in his short story. In A Rose for Emily, Faulkner uses symbolism to represent the theme of the past and present, uses a variety of colors to show different ideas, and uses many symbols to represent neglect in the story.
The conflict between the past and the present is one of the main themes of this story. Faulkner uses many different symbols to represent the past, and many different symbols to represent the present. He uses two of his characters as prime examples of these two things. Miss Emily is a clear symbol of the past and Homer Barron is a clear symbol of the present. "Characters can be symbolic, too: Miss Emily, in "A Rose for Emily," represents a rapidly fading way of life: Homer Barron represents the new century and its new ways (olemiss ). Emily does not want to live in the present. She stays in the house and does not come out. People went months and sometimes years without seeing Emily. An example of Emily living in the past is when she claims she does not have taxes to pay for. She tells them to go see Colonel Sartoris, who has been dead for ten years.