“A Rose For Emily” is a short story about the decay of society and morality. It tells the story of Miss Emily, an eccentric woman who refuses to acknowledge death or change until she’s gone too far down that path to turn back. This paper discusses how Faulkner communicates these themes by exploring the nature of mortality, time, and class in his writing.
Section 1: Synopsis for “A Rose for Emily”
According to an unidentified narrator, Miss Emily Grierson’s burial was attended by the whole town. However, the men felt compelled to visit her home, while the women were more interested in it than any other person.
Colonel Sartoris, the mayor, cancelled all future taxes for Miss Emily after her father’s death in 1894. He did this out of kindness and on the false presumption that it would pay back a father’s debt.
A new group of legislators sends her a tax notice years later. They keep trying to reach her but are ignored. She replies to the notice.
A delegation was sent by the Board of Aldermen to her home. Tobe, the servant, greets them. The home smells musty and filthy. Miss Emily is small and clumsy and walks with a cane.
They argue. She replies that she doesn’t have to pay Jefferson taxes. They explain that she is not exempt from taxes. She tells them to go to Colonel Sartoris, and Tobe will take them there. According to the narrator Sartoris has been dead for ten years.
Thirty years ago, there was another event. It was similar to her father’s death two years earlier and just after her sweetheart died.
Emily is now in seclusion. The Negro servant is the only activity in the house.
Judge Stevens, eighty-years old, is approached by two neighbors who complain about the foul-smelling odor coming from Judge Stevens’s home. They call on the government to act.
The Board of Aldermen meets. One younger member suggests that the Board of Aldermen send a message to get things under control or face the consequences. Judge Stevens hesitates to accuse a lady smelling horrible.
Four men sneak into Emily’s house late at night and do their chores by sprinkling lime all over the ground. A window lights up, revealing Miss Emily’s lifeless body as they work. They leave. They quickly forget about the odor.
People start to feel sorry and guilty for Miss Emily. They remember Lady Wyatt, her great-aunt going insane. She never had any young men who could be considered good enough. After her father’s death, her house was all that she had. The town folk believe the arrogant Griersons are now gone.
When Miss Emily’s father passes away, she claims that he was still alive for three more days. He is finally buried and she succumbs to his illness.
Miss Emily falls ill for a long period of time. When she returns, her hair is cut short.
This summer, a construction company is visiting Jefferson to pave the walkways. It is led by Homer Barron, a Northerner. He is well-liked. He and Miss Emily ride in a buggy on Sundays.
Rumours abound about the connection. Many believe her estranged family in Alabama should visit her. Although she is considered a fallen woman, she retains her dignity.
Miss Emily bought poison about a year after their relationship started. Because the law requires poison consumers to state the purpose of the poison, the druggist asked her. He asked her if she had any questions. She didn’t answer and just stared at him until the package was over. He wrote “For rats” on the packaging.
Rumours have it that Miss Emily plans to kill herself. Homer is not the type to marry her; she feels hopeless. The Baptist preacher is coerced by the ladies to summon her. He kept the details private and never returned. His wife writes letters to her Alabama cousins.
Miss Emily orders soon some masculine accessories. People in the area assume that she and Homer have been married. Her cousins are being asked to also leave.
Homer leaves as soon as the paving project has been completed. The cousins are now back home. Three days later, Homer returns to Miss Emily.
Homer is never seen again and Miss Emily is not seen outside for six months. She has gained weight and her hair is iron-gray. At forty, she has been teaching china painting for six to seven years. She is responsible for the grandkids and daughters of the older generation. After they are grown up, there will not be any substitutes for her students. She retreats within herself.
Jefferson refuses to give an address or a mailbox when she receives postal mail.
The years pass. Her maid turns grey, her tax notifications are not claimed, and she is rarely seen through a basement window. The top floor of her house appears locked.
Miss Emily falls ill and dies in her basement chamber.
Visitors can enter the front door by asking the servant. The servant leaves the front door and is never seen again.
The funeral will take place on the second day. They put off dealing with Miss Emily’s top chamber until after her burial.
They broke the door. It has a tomb-like feel and is very dusty. This room has been converted into a wedding suite.
Homer Barron’s body is lying on the bed. He appeared happy. There’s an indentation on the cushion beside him. It has long, iron gray hair.
Theme: Death Denialism
The story is full of death and can be seen from many perspectives. We will concentrate on Miss Emily’s denial.
Miss Emily is denied death by the municipal officials when she visits her about her taxes. She refused to listen to their arguments twice, stating “See Colonel Sartoris.” According to the narrator, Sartoris was dead for more than 10 years.
Fair to assume Miss Emily knows this. Tobe, her servant, is often seen in town. According to the story, townsfolk enjoy talking about each other. He would have known about major Jefferson events and kept Miss Emily updated. She refuses to recognize Sartoris’s death.
Miss Emily acts as though nothing has happened when her father passes away. Some women call to offer support and condolences. She greets them with a smile and no emotion. She claims her father is still alive.
This she does for three days, repelling clergymen, admirers, and doctors. Finally, she sobs and accepts her death.
The preservation of Homer Barron’s body for nearly forty years is the ultimate denial. The narrator stated that it was positioned in the “attitude of an embrace”. The narrator adds that the cushion also shows “the indentation and embracing of a head”, as well as the discovery on the next cushion of “a long strand of iron-gray tresses.”
Miss Emily spent at most some time with Homer, lying down beside him and hugging his corpse.
Miss Emily’s rejection to death was manifested initially in the death of her father, but was heightened by her plans for Homer and then mirrored in her decision to speak with a dead person.
Miss Emily’s refusal to accept death is not a positive thing for her long-term life. It prevents her from being a Jeffersonian. It gives her the temporary solace she needs in the short-term and in isolation.
The theme is isolation
Miss Emily is part of the Jefferson community but she lives separately.
She didn’t go out with anyone when she was younger because her father thought no one was good enough.
She doesn’t reply to her tax notice and ignores a formal request that she contact the sheriff. She replied to the letter of the mayor with a message saying that she doesn’t go out.
Since her father’s death, she has not been seen in the town.
After Homer’s departure, some females approach her. They are not accepted by her. In six months, she has not been seen in the town.
The Baptist minister’s presence will only be temporary. Miss Emily probably isn’t as discouraged now.
She won’t accept any mail from outside. Although it doesn’t prevent people from sending her letters and messages, it does mean that she is no longer available for correspondence.
She stops teaching china painting and continues to live alone until her death.
It is not clear if Miss Emily’s isolation is due to her mental health or not. It is very possible that it is both. Her disordered mind and existence are undoubtedly made worse by her isolation.
Miss Emily’s interactions and interactions with other people highlight her isolation, as shown when she:
- The Mayor’s Deputation is immediately dismissed.
- Her Sundays with Homer are very popular.
- The visit to the druggist was uncomplicated, and it was unsettling.
- The older generation imposes her china-painting instruction upon the children.
- The visit of her cousins lasted only a few days.
Theme: The South is changing
In “A Rose For Emily”, there is conflict between the antebellum, aristocratic south and the post Civil War south.
The code of honor and chivalry was a tradition in the ancient south that the younger generations do not adhere to. There are many differences between the two systems.
- Colonel Sartoris creates a story about Miss Emily’s taxes to stop her from giving charity to the new politician.
- A young alderman asks Miss Emily to clean her house. Judge Stevens, an eighty-year old, will not accuse Miss Emily of being foul-smelling.
- Miss Emily’s neighborhood changes from beautiful to unattractive.
- How Homer is loved by the younger generation but not the older generation because he is a Northerner or a day labourer.
- How Miss Emily’s china painting is valued by the older generation, but dismissed by them
- Miss Emily’s father disapproves of socially acceptable men because they aren’t good enough. This led to her eventually falling in love with a Northern worker.
1. What does the title mean?
Although I cannot confirm it, Faulkner says that it was an allegorical title. The idea was, “Here was a lady who had suffered a tragedy, an irreversible disaster, and there was nothing we could do about it. And I grieved her. This was a salute…to which you would give a rose to a woman.”
This seems to make sense to me. The narrator gave Emily a rose to show her appreciation for everything she had done. This seems to go along with the use of a non-judgmental tone. It is not mentioned that she was unable to keep her father’s body, or that Homer’s was found.
2. Do you see any evidence of foreshadowing in the past?
The story’s climax is Homer Barron’s discovery of his body in the bed. It would have been expected that something this large would be pre-planned. These are just a few of the “hints”:
- The pungent smell emanating from the home.
- How Miss Emily managed to keep her father’s body alive for three days
- The atmosphere in her house is now in decline
- The manner in which the top was sealed off.
- Her arsenic purchase, and
- Miss Emily appears to be a corpse, “bloated” like a long-buried body in unmoving waters. It is only natural that Miss Emily’s companion is also a corpse.
It is possible that Miss Emily’s mental health would allow her to do something out of the ordinary. As previously stated, one was holding the remains of her father for three days. Another claims that Lady Wyatt her great-uncle, had “completely gone insane.”
Is a Rose for Emily Based upon a true story?
The short story “A Rose for Emily” written by William Faulkner, is not true. This story is just one of many Faulkner fictions.
Why did Emily write A Rose for Emily?
Faulkner was interviewed in 1959 about what inspired him to write this story. Faulkner stated, among other things that he wanted the story to examine: another tragic and tragic manifestation of man’s condition in which dreams and hopes are realized. . .
How did the author conclude the story of A Rose for Emily.
Emily dies at the end of “A Rose for Emily”. The townpeople open her bedroom door and discover Homer Barron’s corpse in her bed. He was killed by her and she has been sharing her bed with him every night.
Why did Emily keep the body of her father?
She was looking for a father figure and found herself attracted to the authority of the men she loved. This may be why she kept their bodies around after they died to preserve the environment she had grown accustomed to and alleviate her loneliness.
Why did Emily poison Homer’s soul?
Emily vented her hatred on the residents of the town after poisoning Homer. She believed that women were so picky she would lose her face, which was another reason she poisoned Homer. Emily couldn’t find solace because she was too depressed.
What mental illness did Emily experience in A Rose for Emily
One can conclude that Emily has schizophrenia by looking at Emily’s behavior and how she interacts with others. Emily is an introverted woman who doesn’t like being around other people and does not enjoy having visitors in her home.
Why did Miss Emily have to give up her cousins?
Miss Emily did not want her relatives to “keep an eyes on her” regarding her relationship with Homer. So now that she and Homer appear to be acting responsibly, Miss Emily and the townpeople will happily get rid of their cousins who no longer serve a purpose in being in town.
What did Emily really want to purchase from the druggist
Miss Emily purchases arsenic from a druggist. As required by law, she does not tell him her plans for using it.
What made Emily decide to buy arsenic instead of her usual steroid?
Miss Emily buys the arsenic to poison Homer Barron, a Yankee worker who came to town to pave the sidewalks. He isn’t someone Miss Emily would approve of. She finds him to be a very low-ranking person.
Why did Miss Emily refuse taxes to be paid?
Because her father promised that he wouldn’t have to, Emily will not pay taxes following her father’s passing. The mayor made up a story about the town owing the Griersons money and exempted them from property taxes.
What was the scent of A Rose for Emily’s?
However, the reader can infer that the smell is coming from Homer’s decaying body. We can assume that it is Homer’s decaying body because he disappeared and has not been seen since then.
Is Emily a victim, or a villain?
Emily is both a victim as well as a victim in this story. Emily, a young woman, is the victim of her father’s control. Emily is denied the chance to marry and start a family because her father believes she is unsuitable.
Why would Emily refuse her father’s remains to be removed from her home?
Grierson believed that no man was worthy of his daughter’s love, so it is likely she was more or less a recluse when she was younger or only surrounded herself with her father’s friends. Her entire reason for being there collapsed when he died. He died, but she refused to admit it and refused to allow anyone in the house for three days.
Was Emily a poisoner in A Rose for Emily
The plot is sparked by Emily’s struggle with loss and attachment. She plans to kill Homer Barron who is believed to have been her husband. Emily is believed to have poisoned and killed Homer because she believes that murder is the only way for Homer to be with her forever.
What was Emily’s poison to kill her wife?
Emily gave her the E meds, but it is only after she has taken the medication. She realizes that the E coli found in her water is a deadly poison and she wasn’t her friend.
What does the gray hair symbolise in A Rose for Emily
Gray hairs on her pillow indicate that she was lying on the mattress beside her deceased husband. Gray hair can be interpreted as a sign that someone is wise and respectful. Gray hair is a sign of wisdom and respect.
Is Emily mentally ill or healthy?
Miss Emily could have schizophrenia as her mental illness. The story does not identify Miss Emily’s mental illness so readers must make a diagnosis based on character analysis.
What makes Emily crazy?
The story tells of Emily’s descent into madness due to her father’s control, isolation and a family tendency towards mental illness. The story also serves as a commentary about society.
What would Emily purchase in A Rose for Emily
They believe she is abandoning her family pride and falling in love with a man below her rank. As Emily’s affair goes on, and her reputation is further damaged, she visits a drug store to buy arsenic, which is a deadly poison. The law requires her to disclose how she intends to use arsenic.
What happened to Wyatt, an old lady from A Rose for Emily.
Old lady Wyatt, Emily’s great-aunt, is (on her father’s side we believe). According to the townpeople, old lady Wyatt was “completely insane” before her death (2.11).
What did Miss Emily’s hometown think?
Although Miss Emily is a living memorial to their pre-Civil War Southern history, the townspeople are highly critical and gossipy about her.
What happens to Emily when Homer Barron vanishes?
What happens to Miss Emily when Homer Barron vanishes? People can enter Miss Emily’s house once Miss Emily has died. We know that Homer Barron has died and that his body was kept in Miss Emily’s upstairs bedroom. His body, which was covered in a nightshirt, is now lying on the bed.
For whom did Emily purchase rat poison?
She bought poison from a doctor to keep him around. Many people assumed that Miss Emily would die from the poison. After learning the truth, the community realized that this poison was meant to protect Miss Emily from Homer.
What does Arsenic symbolise in A Rose for Emily
The story’s most disturbing symbols are arsenic and lime. It also represents the way that the town did things in that time period. It is often combined with arsenic as they both represent the removal of a smelly substance. In the case of “A Rose for Emily”, it is the exact same thing.
Why was Miss Emily called upon by the Baptist minister?
Why did the Baptist minister call Miss Emily? They pestered him to convince Emily not to marry Homer Barron. Because he ran out the backdoor when the ladies entered the front door, he is never seen again.
Why did Emily purchase rat poison from A Rose for Emily?
Before Homer made it clear they were not going to be married, she bought the items and then purchased the rat poison. Emily killed him because she was upset at Homer for turning her down and because she knew this was her best chance at matrimony.
Is Miss Emily a ratkeeper?
Miss Emily didn’t tell the druggist what she wanted. To avoid getting in trouble for selling Miss Emily arsenic, the druggist put rats on the packaging.
Why is Miss Emily refusing to accept a mailbox?
As was her usual practice in Jefferson for change, Miss Emily refused to allow the postal service to attach a mailbox to her house and fasten the numbers to her door. They refused to listen.
Why was Emily unable to find the right person?
Why was Emily unable to find the right men in her youth? None of them were approved by her father. What happened to Homer Barron, you ask? He was the one Emily murdered.
What did Miss Emily’s father tell her after he died?
A smaller temporal leap: Emily felt bad for her father’s death. He had left her the house but not the money. He had spent all his life scaring away any potential suitors that might have been interested in her marriage.
How many times has Emily Grierson been married before?
Miss Emily Grierson was never married. Her life span seventy years, including pre-Civil War, Civil War and post-war.
Homer is a Rose for Emily.
In this story, Homer Barron was the man Emily Grierson was supposed (or at least that’s what she believed). Homer was from the North. Homer was the boss of a group of road workers. He met Miss Emily while he was in town.
What is the climax to A Rose for Emily
According to the first definition, Emily purchases poison to kill Homer Barron as the climax of “A Rose for Emily”. She had been able to meet Barron in the year prior to making the purchase. Her low social standing indicated that she was ready to leave the Old South.
What did you do to eliminate the stench in A Rose for Emily
To get rid of the terrible stench, four men go to the Grierson property at midnight. They sprinkle lime around the house. Tobe, Emily’s black man-servant, is her only companion for the majority of the story. He is often the only sign that there is life around the Grierson house.
Is Emily in A Rose for Emily evil or good?
She may be mentally ill, but she is not necessarily evil. One could even say she isn’t evil because she is a victim. She is the victim of social constraints and her father’s oppressive upbringing.
Do the people of A Rose for Emily view Emily Grierson as a victim, or a villain?
Are the “A Rose for Emily” townspeople able to see Emily Grierson either as a victim, or a villain? Jefferson citizens see Miss Emily as a victim because of her circumstances, especially those that are related to her father’s oppressive influence.
Is Emily guilty of A Rose for Emily?
Emily can’t be convicted in “A Rose for Emily” of either one. She’s dead. This is the entire point of the story. The town is clueless.
What is the main purpose of A Rose for Emily’s?
The central theme of William Faulkner’s story, “A Rose For Emily”, is to let go the past. Emily Grierson is the main character of the story. She has a tendency towards clinging to the past and a reluctance being independent.
Why are colonies radioactive?
The Colonies refer to areas in North America that have been contaminated with radioactive and pollution. Gilead uses the system created by Commander Joseph Lawrence to send women convicted of different crimes to the Colonies to be punished.