5 October 2008
A Rose for William Faulkner
When Miss Emily began to see Homer Barron, the construction worker from the North, it was clear to all of the people of Jefferson that he would not marry her.
“Poor Emily,” some of the ladies gossiped.
“Even her family won’t come to her.”
“It is sort of disgraceful, what she is doing.”
“It doesn’t set a good example for the young girls.”
When Miss Emily bought arsenic from the drug store, the ladies gossiped again.
“She is going to kill herself.”
“Maybe that would be for the best.”
But Miss Emily did not kill herself, and although no one had seen Homer Barron in a while, Miss Emily ordered men’s clothing and a men’s toiletry set.
“Maybe they’ll be married.”
“He must have left town to give her time to prepare for the wedding.”
Several years later, the whole town of Jefferson went to the funeral when Miss Emily Grierson died. The men went out of reverence. The women went in order to get a glimpse at the inside of Miss Emily’s house, which no one had seen for as long as they’d seen Homer Barron.
Her house was white and very large, and set on what used to be the most prestigious street in Jefferson. The street was now simply cluttered with dumpsters and gas pumps, save Miss Emily’s house in the middle of it.
Everyone had always taken care of Miss Emily. In fact, the town had even waived her taxes since 1894, when her father passed away. Because Miss Emily would not have accepted this, the townsmen told Miss Emily that it was a form of repaying a loan her father had made several years before. When the townsmen were replaced by younger counterparts, they demanded she pay her own taxes. They paid a visit to her house when she refused to do so.
The house was dusty and cavernous. Miss Emily appeared looking far older than anyone remembered her. The weight she had gained on her skeletal frame had the effect of making her look bloated.
“I have no taxes in Jefferson.” Miss Emily told them.
“But why shouldn’t you?”
“We have found no evidence in city record that leads us to believe your taxes should be waived.”
“Perhaps you should look again.”
“We have several times, Miss Grierson.”
“You did receive our letter about paying your taxes?”
“Yes.” Miss Emily looked at the men.
“You can ask Colonel Satoris if you doubt me.”
“But Colonel Satoris has been dead nearly ten years and we have no way of proving…”
“Tobe, show these men out.”