A Rose for Emily is a story by William Faulkner. Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, on 25 September 1897. He was the first of four sons to Murry Cuthbert and Maud Faulkner, and was named after his great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner. He never completed high school, but was able to enroll in University for a special catering program, to serve the war veterans. He stands out to be the most unsurpassed American writers of the twentieth century. Faulkner has written novels, poems, screenplays and short stories. Faulkner wrote his first novel, Soldier’s Play, in 1925. In addition, his most celebrated novels are As I Lay Dying (1930), Light in August (1932), The Sound and the Fury (1929), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). William Faulkner died of a heart attack on July 6, 1962. Faulkner remains a revered writer of the American South of all times (Morton 10). A Rose for Emily is Faulkner’s most interpreted short story. Faulkner is said to be influenced by his family history, and the area in which he grew up. This story takes place in Faulkner's fictional city, Jefferson, in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha. Faulkner uses a third person point of view so as to make the readers interpret the story, and draw their own conclusions as the story progresses.
The narrator in the story is omniscient, unbiased, and is all knowing. He tells a story of events that happened in his absence without taking any sides. The narrator was aware of everything that was taking place in the entire town (Getty 230). In addition, no one knew about Emily’s life, but it is through the narrator that we learn about her life with her father, and after her father’s death. The narrator describes Miss Emily’s house, as “it smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell” (Getty 230). He further explains how the furniture was dusty, cracked as they sat down; they were all filled with dust from the old leather covered furniture. The narrator presents to the reader a decaying house, yet the owner does not want to leave, she is stilt attached to it. Through the third person point of view, the reader is able to learn of the situation of Emily’s house, the seats and the decaying furniture. At the beginning, the narrators, says “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: 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” (Faulkner 33). Through the narrator, everyone was able to know how Emily’s house was like.
In addition, the narrator also explains to the reader about the horrible stench that is coming out of Miss Emily’s house. Initially, the narrator had already told the reader about Emily’s intimate relationship with Homer, and how Homer was interested in men and not in Emily (Sullivan 156).The narrator is all knowing because, the people never knew about it until they opened the door after Miss Emily’s death, and found Homer’s body. This shows that, the narrator had a good idea about everything that was happening in Emily’s life and what exactly had happened to Homer. The narrator introduced the audience to the secret room that highlights the mystery of Emily’s life. This is the time when the reader learns of Homer’s death and the gruesome fact that, Emily murdered him. This discovery was only made after her death since no one entered her house, but that day, the whole town attended her funeral. Emily initially had rejected anyone from entering her house despite the powerful stench emanating from her house. According to Sullivan, the narrator seemed to have more than surface knowledge on Emily because, he was able to tell everything about her and it turned out to be true.
The narrator uses third person plural narration while explaining about Miss Emily’s failure to pay taxes. He says, “They called a special meeting of the Board of Alderman” Miss Emily believed that he owned no taxes to the town after her father’s death. Miss Emily had confrontations with the town’s authority on her lack of tax payment. The narrator writes, anytime they try confronting her to pay taxes, she "vanquished them horse and foot." This means, she refused completely to pay the taxes in the town. Emily boldly declares that, “I have no taxes in Jefferson." (Faulkner 42). Furthermore, even after the terrible smell in her house is fixed without her notice, she still she refuses to pay the taxes.
In conclusion, A rose for Emily is a great literary work because it connects with human’s reality and desire and makes the reader think deeper. Faulkner’s point of view in this story was the most amazing and different from all other writers. Faulkner has a unique style of telling a story and capturing his audience. In A Rose for Emily, the narrator had valuable information about Emily, her father and the whole town at large. Through his third person narration, the narrator is able to tell the story in an interesting manner that catches the reader’s eyes. The narrator speaks from a third person narration and he is fully aware of all events in the town and about the life of the protagonist. Faulkner used the third person perspective so as to allow the reader to feel how the townspeople feel and view Emily’s life from a different perspective. Third person narration helps the reader to make conclusions or rather form an opinion on what the narrator narrates throughout the story. The narrator was able to give the reader an outsider’s glimpse of Miss Emily Grierson’s life. The use of Faulkner’s third person narration helped the reader find out about Emily’s past life, including her father’s death, her love for Homer, how she needed affection and the death of Homer Baron. Ultimately, the author is able to execute his story very well through the third person narration.
Getty, Laura J. "Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" The Explicator 63.4 (2005): 230. Print.
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emil and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.
Morton, Clay 'A Rose for Emily': Oral Plot, Typographic Story", Storytelling: A Critical Journal of Popular Narrative 5.1(2005):7-12. Print.
Sullivan, Ruth. “The Narrator in “A Rose for Emily.” The Journal of Narrative Technique 1(1971): 159-78.Print.