Section 1: Bibliographic Data – Works Cited
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1970. Print.Section 2: Summary
In “A Rose for Emily,” lonely spinster Emily Grierson kills her discreet and distant lover Homer Barron, a murder that is revealed only long after the fact to the town in which she lives, shocking its residents. The reasons are never explicitly mentioned in the story, but the isolated environment of the town, the townsfolk’s poor and judgmental treatment of Emily, and Homer’s own ambivalence toward his relationship with Emily all drive her to kill. The story is told through the collective consciousness of the town, acting as a narrator that constantly switches between events and events. Gossip is the means by which the combined information about Emily is disseminated throughout the town; this adds an air of mystery to the woman, as everyone wonders about her relationship with Homer. One could argue that death is merely a symbol for Emily’s madness, and not of great love for Homer. Emily is frequently shown to be reclusive, and thought to be crazy by the members of the town, showing the audience the town’s perspective keeping Emily at a distance so we do not know what she is thinking.
Section 3: Literary Analysis The fractured chronology in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” in addition to the skewed perspective that comes from having the townspeople as a whole become the narrators of the short story, lends the short story an air of mystery and suspense that adds to the Gothic horror atmosphere Faulkner has created. Constantly giving the audience clues as to the eventual twist at the end of the story keeps the audience reading, and the lack of information the rest of the townsfolk have allows the audience to be just as much in the dark of the situation until the very end. By starting the audience at the funeral, it is clear that Emily will die – also, they just may get to see how by the end of the story. Then, in 1894, the audience sees the defining moment of Emily’s life – it is the point when she believes she does not need to interact with society anymore. Emily puts her foot down and says “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me” (Faulkner, 1970). Her stubbornness (far from becoming of a lady of the time period) leads her to become isolated from the rest of Jackson, her only other significant communication with the townsfolk being the annual tax bill, which is always ignored.
Section 4: Personal Reaction
I personally really liked the story; it was a fascinating look at the life of a very lonely person in a time when people were judged, particularly women, for not being married, or for being different from others. The way we learn about her through the town keeps her a secret from us as well, and the grotesque way it turns out is really fascinating. You are left wondering what it is about Emily that made her kill Homer and herself – how she could be so lonely and strange as to do that.
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1970. Print.