His Reflection in her Mirror
“Every physically healthy human is born the same. They are born with two hands, two legs, a heart, a pair of lungs, two eyes and a genitalia attribute. When someone is born, they are determined what gender the baby should be classified, but does that mean they are bound to that gender identification forever? Everyone, no matter how old or young, has the same 24 hours in one day to use. For some people, the days are easy and repetitive and for others, it is a fight every day. Many people say that a mother never takes a day off work but the same could be said for the LGBTQ community. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and queers, are constantly fighting for equality. A child is subject to critics, as early as one year old, if they are not seen falling into the gender norm. If a five-year-old boy is seen wearing pink or playing with barbies, family members, friends, strangers and neighbors are quick to gossip. Many family members can go as far as taking away the toys to informing their parents what the boy should wear. At this point, social pressure begins to fall on the parents and their child. Parents only want what is best for their children, but what exactly is best? Following social pressure or allowing their child to be who they are. From reality, to movies and to books, LGBTQ people are never represented positively. It is almost as if they did not exist or were not that important to talk about. If they are talked about in movies or books they are usually killed off. In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, the townspeople are obsessed with a lady named Emily. Along with the townspeople obsession came a heavy social pressure to Emily resulting her to shut herself out from the community and ultimately the death of an innocent man. The castration of Miss Emily produced her homophobia and was developed through the story with everyone’s inability to defy gender norms, the townspeople compulsory heterosexuality and ending with Miss Emily in a homosexual panic state.
It seems as the main character of this story is Miss Emily, but her deceased father also played a big role throughout the whole story. Miss Emily is portrayed as an old rich lady whose family history and reputation entitled them with respect. “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town,”(1). This tradition, duty and care towards Emily came because of her father. He was a man who fought during the civil war and was said that,
“Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. Only a man if Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.” (1)
Miss Emily’s father was with her, her whole life even after his death. It is as if he haunted her without being realistically haunted. Because of his patriarchy and Miss Emily’s inability to break free from gender norms, she became isolated from the townspeople until she met a man named, Homer Barron. Gossips started and “Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people” (6). The compulsory heterosexuality led the women to believe that both Miss Emily and Homer should wed.
With the inability to be an individual and living under her father’s shadow, Miss Emily was lost throughout her whole life. She was unable to connect with anyone, not even in books. Given the label that fell upon Homer, it was safe to assume that he was the only one that was gay and because of the naturalization of heterosexuality it kept the townspeople thinking that Miss Emily was nothing but straight, although there was something different about her. The townspeople would say “SHE WAS SICK for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows – sort of tragic and serene” (4) So why cut her hair after her father’s death? Perhaps having long hair is a sign of feminism and short hair is odd during this time. Why call her sick when she was not diagnosed with an illness? Are the townspeople referring to her change in appearance? It is after this change when Miss Emily met Homer Barron. The townspeople automatically assumed that Miss Emily was interested in Homer, they began to gossip, “‘Do you suppose it’s really so?’ they said to one another. ‘Of course it is. What else could…’” (5). Seeing a man and a woman spending time together could only mean one thing, love. It angered the townspeople to see two people of the opposite sex to hang spend time with another and not be married. The townspeople called the church to act and “He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again” (5). Maybe during this meeting, it was discovered that both were gay. Eventually, Miss Emily and Homer wedded. Due to this social pressured marriage, it threw Miss Emily into a homosexual panic. Miss Emily not ever being able to be who she wanted to be was troubled with anxiety and jealousy towards Homer who was openly gay. Seeing Homer frustrated her and led her to murder him. Miss Emily afraid of having her sexuality exposed kept Homers dead body. Ultimately Miss Emily did love Homer, not as a Husband, but because he reflected who she wanted to be.
In conclusion, Miss Emily was torn by the binary opposition: straight vs gay. Torn between choosing a side led to her despair. She wanted to be free but was unable due to her rooted traditions passed on from her father. Due to those traditions, Miss Emily was incapable to be herself because a part of her was also homophobic. She feared herself and loved Homer because he was her mirror.”