Summary of A Rose for Emily by William Falkner Essay

A rather dark and disturbing short story written in 1931 by William Falkner, “A Rose For Emily” tells the tale of Emily Grierson, a troubled, and mysterious woman who has always been an outsider in her town. The story begins with the funeral of Emily, who had died at 74. Nobody, except her servant Tobe, had been inside her house for ten years, and the story goes back to this last encounter. Emily had had a special relationship with the town which allowed her to opt out on taxpaying because she couldn’t pay, but the newer generation did not like the idea. This is when the authorities went to her house to ask for payment, and she refused straight out. The story goes back thirty years before this when, there had been a terrible stench coming from her house. This was a couple years after her father had passed away, leaving her only the house but no money, and soon after a man she was seeing had disappeared from her life. The townspeople, unwilling to confront her about it, sprinkled lime around her house until the smell left. The story moves further back to when she begins dating the man named Homer Baron and the town fetches her cousins to attempt break up the relationship. Emily is seen buying arsenic at the drugstore and the townspeople thinks she plans to kill herself. Homer and the cousins leave, Homer comes back, and after he enters Emily’s house, he is never seen again. She rarely leaves the house. As she ages, her hair turns grey, and she becomes overweight and unhealthy, she dies, and the reader is brought back to the funeral. When it is over, the townspeople go upstairs in the house to break into a room which had been closed for forty years. They find the corpse of Homer on a bed, the indentation of a head on the pillow nex…

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…en taught: to fall in love and get married and have a family, but it all began falling apart when she realized Homer was going to leave. It is just as when the authorities showed up at her house asking her about her taxes, and she refused to pay, saying, “the authorities must see Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson” although Colonel Sartoris had been dead for quite some time. She is unable to deal with conflicts because she refuses to let go of the past.

There are many different levels to Emily’s disturbed mindset and behavior. Her refusal to let go is only one part, and merely scratches the surface of this intricately written story. Faulkner skillfully creates the disturbing, sad, tragic nature of this tale. The non-chronological order helps maintain the mystery and intrigue until the shocking conclusion of this expertly written story.

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