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Demargo Cox

Alyssa Yankwitt

FIQWS 10008

24 September 2019

A Rose for the Repressed

Repression can be defined as a feeling, a thought or an experience that is too traumatic for a person to handle; as a result of the individual unconsciously pushes this traumatic experience out of the conscious mind into the unconscious. However issues began to manifest in the individual, this is seen with Emily Grierson in “A Rose For Emily”. Emily’s Father in this reading is a strong repressive character who isolates Emily from men; as a result of this Emily has a deep desire to possess a man. This desire and a combination of her unconscious repressed feelings cause her to make unethical and mad decisions.

When finding the heart of Emily’s repressive behavior we start with her father Mr. Grierson. Since the story is told through the lens of another being we get no true personal account on this man as a person. We are only offered a tableau, Emily a slender figure standing behind her father, her father a spraddled silhouette in the front, his back to her and holding a horsewhip(Faulkner 2). This visual representation allows us to attach the idea that Mr. Grierson has separated Emily from other people, making him the only person in her life. This early separation from social interactions play a part in her repression, she has no free will in this relationship with her father and her relationship with her father in her life. As a result, Emily gulps down the effects of her father’s actions day by day and year by year.

Emily’s repression begins to further manifest after the death of her father, this can be seen with her denial of his death. It is stated “…Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly”(Faulkner 2). The denial of her father’s death is an effect of her seeing her father as her life, she doesn’t know anything outside of this man. This death then leads to the displacement of emotions for her father in Homer Barron.

When we are introduced to Homer Barron he is described as a “Yankee–a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face(Faulkner 2)”. Homer was the complete opposite of what a woman of Emily would typically represent which also meant he was the complete opposite of what her father would want. However, we soon see Emily engage in outings with Homer every Sunday and showing love towards him. Even though Homer himself stated he did not like a woman and preferred men. This is where her repression and resistance begin to take fold. Emily has completely ignored signs that are logically telling her this man is not for her but doesn’t care because of her years spent under the care of her father. She is also not consciously aware of the fact that she is replacing her father with Homer Baron. According to Freud “Without the removal of resistance, there would be no cure for the patient, but with the mechanism of the cure as a starting point, quite a definite theory could be constructed. These same forces, which in the present situation as resistances opposed the emergence of the forgotten ideas into consciousness, must themselves have caused the forgetting, and repressed from consciousness the pathogenic experiences.” This in other words states with repression there is a level of resistance. Emily, in this case, is failing to break her connection with her father and is allowing it to dictate her life post-death.

The top point of Emily’s repression can be seen with her murder of Homer Baron. While reading the story we see Emily buying things for Homer such as Clothing and a silver toilet seat for men(Faulkner 4).However, due to her repression and relationship with her father, she kills Homer. Not out of malice but because of the emotional displacement of her father onto him and her desire to not lose Homer like she lost her father.

Overall, repression in a Rose for Emily is clear because we see Emily only pushing down her past experiences with her father, but even further pushing down after he dies. To this point that it manifests into her life with someone she loves. This desire and a combination of her unconscious repressed feelings caused her to make unethical and mad decisions.