Farewell to My Duty
Ever since Miss Emily’s father passed away, she had been staying in her house for years. I was the only connection to the town- but only when I need grocery or something for Miss Emily or for the house. When Homer Barron, a foreman of the construction company, came to the town for paving the sidewalks, Miss Emily started to come out to the town, driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy on Sunday afternoons. I saw the town people were surprised that she actually came out to the town. Not only that, but also it might be a shock that Miss Grierson, with dignity of her family and noblesse oblige, came out to the town because of this day laborer nigger like me. There cannot be any relationship between a nigger laborer and a noble family in any places in the world – even if the Grierson is being corrupted and Miss Emily might be the last person in the Grierson, I think. I grew up with Miss Emily in this house, and I saw her going through hard time after Mr. Grierson passed away, and even before that. I think I knew her feeling better than anyone else because I was the only one who had been staying with her in this house for years. It was just my duty that I have to take care of her and do anything to protect her, but I also have loyalty and compassion to her. So when the people in the town talked about Miss Grierson and Homer Barron, I pretended I did not hear anything as I have done for my whole life.
Miss Emily might know what other people in town would think about her falling in love with Homer Baron. I was sure that she cared about the town’s thoughts when I saw her getting poison. It was arsenic. She even went out to the town to get the poison by herself. If it was for rats, she would have told me to get it. I knew she got the poison because of Homer Barron but I did not know how she would use it. Is she going to kill herself? But I know she is not the type of person to kill herself because she cares about other people’s eyes. She is the tradition and the noble in Jefferson, and she can’t just kill herself because of love for a Northern laborer. But I cannot ask or tell her what to do because I am not in the position; luckily, regardless of my concern, she did not use the poison for herself.
Later Miss Emily ordered a man’s toilet set in silver with the letters H.B. on each piece. She also bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing, including a nightshirt. I wondered what she was planning to do; even her two cousins came over to the house. On the day the cousins came to the house, I overheard that they came because the town sent them a letter saying it would be a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people if Miss Emily and Homer Barron marry. When I looked at them, – they did not see me looking at them because I pretended I was just serving them a cup of tea – I felt like they were little different than Miss Emily. They looked full of egoism and prejudice that they were not even considering Miss Emily as a member of family. Maybe that was why they did not let me be next to Miss Emily when they were talking. And maybe, that was the reason why they left back to their home because they think nothing would happen. And even if anything happen to Miss Emily, it would not matter to them.
After the two ladies left, I had to clean a room in upstairs and furnish the room as for a bridal and Homer Barron came to the house couple of days later. I opened the door for him at dusk, Miss Emily, with sad smile on her face, greeted him. She took him to the bridal room, and that was the last time I saw Homer Barron.
It has been years now, and Miss Emily’s corpse is laid in this house and I know some other corpse is still in the abandoned room. In this morning I announced the town people that there is going to be funeral held for Miss Emily today. There are people coming: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house. Poor my lady, poor Miss Emily, I thought. She had been a tradition, a history, and the last real lady in this town. But now she is laid dead, and the whole town does not look like they really came for Miss Emily’s farewell sincerely. How hollow and meaningless life she had lived! But now, after I have done with all of my duty for Miss Emily, after all these years in this dreadful house, I am leaving the house through this back door, and I say farewell to this house, to this town, and to Miss Emily.
Comparison of “A Rose for Emily” and retelling
“Farewell to My Duty” is a rewrite of William Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily” in a different point of view. The protagonist of the stories is Miss Emily. While the original story is narrated by the town people as in first person plural, the new version’s point of view is only one person, Tobe. Because the narrator is the town people in the original story, the story is developed by the facts that they observe outside of the house, and the thoughts how they feel about Miss Emily. However in the rewrite, the narrator is Tobe who lives together with Emily, probably for a long time, so he is able to observe her even inside of the house. The new narrator here, Tobe, is probably the one who knows about Miss Emily the most. Therefore the way how he describes about Miss Emily would be different from the town people’s point of view. In the original story, the town people talk about Miss Emily as a neighbor in their town, but Tobe is Miss Emily’s closest person; Tobe supposed to know more about Miss Emily. Therefore the original story shows the relationship between other people in the town and Miss Emily, whereas the new version focuses on describing the relationship with her closest person Tobe as well as with the town people. Therefore the description of the relationship between Tobe and Miss Emily is more credible and detailed in the new version than in the original version.
In the original story, the relationship between Miss Emily and the town people is well-described. In the town people’s point of view, “Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town” because Miss Emily didn’t pay tax after her father passed away (section 1, paragraph 3). Even though most of the neighbor didn’t like her, they eager to know about Miss Emily just out of curiosity; some felt pity for her; some expected downfall of the Grierson. The town people care about what was happening to Miss Emily not because they really concerned about her health and comfort, but because they were just curious about her. People in the town considered her as some unsolved topic which they can gossip in gathering over years. Throughout the story, the neighbors knew all the details about Emily. For example, in section 3 paragraph 1, the narrator described the appearance of Miss Emily and Homer Barron with details. “Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable.” Also the town people knew that she bought arsenic and that she ordered a man’s toilet set and clothing. As we can see in the original story, the whole town had interests in her but just out of curiosity. Even though she didn’t interact with the people at all, they knew about Miss Emily quite well. Also in the story, the town assumed that Tobe would know everything about Miss Emily and tried to get some information about her from him. However they gave up asking him about her later. The narrator in the original story says “He[Tobe] talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse” (section 4 second to the last paragraph). The only clue of their thoughts about the relationship between Miss Emily and Tobe was his voice; it was rusty from not using it and people can conclude that he doesn’t even talk to Emily. The original story describes well about the relationship between the town and Miss Emily, but there is a limitation of carrying the details about the relationship of Miss Emily and Tobe.
In the new version of the story, however, the narrator Tobe has access to in and out of the house. He has the ability to hear the gossips about Miss Emily when he goes out to the town, and he can watch Miss Emily’s movement as well. Also Tobe as a narrator can easily express his feelings and thoughts about Miss Emily so there are more details which describe the relationship between Tobe and Miss Emily. When Tobe as a narrator talks about the scene when Miss Emily greeted Homer Barron at dusk in paragraph 4, he describes Miss Emily’s face as “with sad smile on her face”. He already knew Miss Emily had bought a poison and furnished Homer Barron’s room as for a bridal. Also he knew “some other corpse is still in the abandoned room” because he never saw Homer Barron again after he went inside the room. He still didn’t mention it to anybody because of the duty to protect Miss Emily. Yet, it was stressful and gloomy staying in the “dreadful house”, but he still had respect for her and admitted that “she had been a tradition, a history, and the last real lady in this town.” (last paragraph). When Tobe found out that Miss Emily bought arsenic, he questioned to himself “Is she going to kill herself?”(paragraph 2) But soon he assumed that she would not kill herself because of a Northern laborer guy. Later even when she ordered a man’s toilet set and outfit, Tobe was wondering about the reason why she bought them, but he never asked her. He did not have any conversation with her not because he did not care about her, but because he trusted her. Also he knew he was “not in the position” to ask or tell her what to do (paragraph 2). Miss Emily was Tobe’s duty to take care of, but at the same time he also felt loyalty and compassion to her. He was the only one who really had respect for her and cared about Miss Emily. He says in the second paragraph; “luckily, regardless of my concern, she didn’t use the poison for herself.” Also when the town guessed that Miss Emily and Tobe didn’t have much of conversation because of his voice, it is not credible because they were just assuming. But when Tobe as a narrator actually mentions that he is not in the position to have conversation with Miss Emily, the readers can have accurate information compared to the imagination of the town people. Therefore the description of the relationship of Tobe and Miss Emily is more credible and detailed in the new version.
To conclude, the original story’s narrator focuses on the relationship between the town people and Miss Emily, whereas the new version’s narrator describes the relationship between Tobe and Miss Emily more effectively. Each point of view can provide us different information even though it is about a same story.