The Importance of Plot in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
In “A Rose For Emily”, by William Faulkner, plot plays an important role in how
the story is played out. Faulkner does not use chronological order in this short story. Instead, he uses an order that has many twists and turns. It appears to have no relevance while being read, but in turn, plays an important role in how the story is interpreted by the reader. Why does Faulkner present the plot of this story in this manner? How does it affect the reader? What does the convoluted plot presentation do to this story? How might the story be different if the plot was presented in chronological order? These are a few questions that have come to my attention while reading this story. I would like to give my opinion on this backed by evidence from the story itself.
First, why does Faulkner present the plot in the way that he does? There can be numerous answers to this question, but I have narrowed it down to one simple answer. He presented the story in this way in order to keep the reader guessing and to also provide some sort of suspense. By Faulkner telling the story in the way that he does, the reader has no way of knowing what might be coming up next in the story. The last thing that a reader wants to do is read a boring story that is easy to predict. Faulkner keeps the reader from knowing what might happen next by not placing the events in the actual order that they occurred. He goes back and forth throughout Miss Emily’s life. At the introduction and conclusion of the story, she is dead, while the body consists of the times when she was alive. The body of the story also jumps back and forth throughout Miss Emily’s life. Faulkner brilliantly divided the story into five key parts, all taking place at some key
period in her life. These parts are prime examples of how Faulkner jumps back and forth throughout Emily’s lifetime. Part one begins with Emily’s funeral while part two begins “thirty years before”, “two years after her fathers death and a short time after her sweetheart”, Homer Barron. (93) Part three begins with her meeting Homer. This is interesting because the part before takes place after he dies. This also shows how Faulkner keeps one guessing with his unorthodox plot order. The next part talks of how Emily is planning to supposedly kill herself. It tells of how she buys the…
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…, Homer’s arrival, the purchase of poison, Homer’s disappearance, the develop of the odor, the alderman’s visit, and the arrival of Emily’s relatives. There are no real interesting points when the story is told in this manner. On the other hand, the way that it is told with the remit of taxes being first, then, the Alderman’s visit, Emily’s father’s death, Homer’s disappearance, the develop of the odor, Homer’s arrival in town, the purchase of the poison, and the arrival of Emily’s relatives, makes it the great story that it is today. So, without a doubt, this story would be a lot worse off if it were told chronologically.
These are a few reasons why Faulkner’s use of plot in “A Rose for Emily” makes it such a great story. Maybe this composition will help one better understand why he presented the plot the way that he did. How it affected the reader. What the convoluted presentation did to the story and how the story would be worse off if the story was told chronologically instead of how Faulkner presented it.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Shorter 5th ed. Ed. R.V.Cassill. New York: W.W. Norton & Comp., 1995.