A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily is a short story written by William Faulkner, an American author. The story was published in April 1930 in an issue of Forum. The story happens in a fictional city created by Faulkner, called Jefferson, Mississippi located in a fictional Yoknapatawpha county. This was the first story ever written by Faulkner to be published in a national magazine.

The main character in the story is Emily Grierson. She is the object of concentration in the story. The author has depicted Emily as an eccentric recluse. Emily is a mysterious character who changes from a vivacious and positive young girl to a secluded and enigmatic old woman. She was overwhelmed and left alone, when her father died. She becomes an object of compassion for the people around her. She had many male friends who were her potential suitors, but were rejected by her father. After her father’s death, she rebrands herself as a new person. Homer Barron becomes her most preferable man, but his chances decrease as years pass. She changes completely in her later years as shown by the graying of her hair. She ends up poisoning Homer and hides his cadaver in a room upstairs (Faulkner 46).

The story has a nonlinear narrative structure. It is set in a funeral for Miss Emily Grierson. Her old house has been deserted for ten years. She had been given a favor of not paying tax. However, the new generation tried making her pay the debt, but she refused to pay. Her father had died thirty years before the event. The story doubles back and tells the reader the relationship Emily had with Homer Barron, after her father died. The story also touches on her old age and goes back to its start at Emily’s funeral. The structure of the story is relevant to the meaning of the story because of its changing structure (Faulkner 50).

Surprise plays an important role in the plot of the story. It serves the purpose of revealing information about Emily’s character of the story. The author has used foreshadowing and flashback. The narrator tells the story through a series of flashbacks that are non-sequential. The narrator tells the story through a forward-backward style (Faulkner 70).

The story is told in a sad atmosphere that helps to create a somber mood in the story. The author creates this atmosphere by engaging the townspeople in the storyline. The events of the story also help to create that atmosphere.

The unnamed narrator serves as a collective voice of the town’s people. The narrator could also be a former servant to Emily, called Tobe. The narrator hides in the collective pronoun ‘we.’ However, he distances himself from the action. The narrator shifts from ‘we’ to ‘they’ in certain instances to show the distance he creates in the actions of the townspeople. The shifts are achieved through a subtle and quick style. If a different narrator had told the story, the gist of it involving Emily and the townspeople would be lost, because the narrator telling the story is part of the townspeople and knows Emily remarkably well.

The title of the story has relevance in that it refers directly to the main character, Emily. The rose symbolizes the final respect for the dead that use flowers given at the funeral. Readers assume that the townspeople have gone to the funeral and have carried flowers.

The theme developed inside the power of death. This is achieved through the mentioning of Emily’s death and its description throughout the story (Faulkner 1).

The author’s style of writing affects the reader’s interpretation of the story. It is conversational unfamiliar and ironic. Thus, the author interprets the story by paying attention to the style of writing. It influences the plotline.

In conclusion, the story is very interesting. The author tells the story through an unnamed writer who understands the main character of the story. This makes the story flow and enhances the meaning of it. 

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