Fiction: Get Real!
The lies of today are the truths of tomorrow; the life of Faulkner’s Emily Grierson was one such personification of this statement. She was the kind of woman that never left the spotlight of attention, the kind of woman that was the focal point of much speculation for years and years, up to her death. The mystery and intrigue her life provided, allowed the bored inhabitants of the town a much needed source of entertainment. For what is gossip but a way to rejuvenate idle minds? and such idle minds they did have. The speaker of the story further proved this idea in the way he narrated the tale of Emily with his excessive use of the word “They”, his continuous reference to “there were still others, older people…”, proving as well that the he might not have been present for the whole of Emily’s life and was part of “the next generation, with its more modern ideas.” and the inconsistency of his language (“They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it…For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin”) strange that he would not include himself with those that broke down the door but suddenly be there to stare at the so-called skeleton of the man. The next question that begs to be answered now is, how can the reader trust a speaker such as him? What reason does the reader have now to believe his grim tale?
The answer? None.
This is the reality of gossip; the inconsistencies in language, the continuous reference to the second-hand source, the fingers pointed towards those who were more “knowledgeable” about the subject, led to its unholy spreading; the cause of the fall of its unknowing victim. This is what made Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” a worthy piece of fiction; the actual portrayal of humanities favorite, destructive pastime. “The air of reality (solidity of specification) seems to me to be the supreme virtue of a novel” (James 559) As per Henry James’s idea, for fiction to be good and believable, it must be anchored to reality; it must pull on the reader’s knowledge and experience so that it might strike a chord within him and allow him to feel one with the character; and Faulkner delivers. In so many yet so little words he presented the degradation of a person’s reputation through words whispered over afternoon tea and how, unsupervised, the story became more than it is. The first through the visage of Emily herself “a small, fat woman in black.... her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl... She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes…she had grown fat and her hair was turning gray…Miss Emily a slender figure in white…” and the second through her horrifying end. It was beautiful how Faulkner did it, in a real setting this could be compared to Grace Poe’s situation, the rumors about how she’s not really adopted; then the continuous talk fanned the flames into a scorching heat that in the end, not only was she not adopted but an illegitimate child of Ferdinand Marcos as well. This was the reality of Emily Grierson’s story, this was the anchor that made this story a good piece of fiction; its relatability and faithful adherence to reality. The shift between truth and lie.