A Rose For Emily and Other Short Stories
Reader-Response Criticism: A Point Of View On A Rose For Emily
Readers from all over the world usually are very focused and attentive to what they read. They know most poems, short stories, novels, or plays are not a solid piece of fabric, but a series of threads separated by gaps that readers must fill in. ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner is full of gaps that’s the reader must involve him/her self deeply to understand and fill these gaps. With the narration of this story the plot is very hard to follow but if with a good mind set the symbols and explanations will appear and the story will make sense. The narrator speaks for many characters in the story, including, the men of Jefferson, and the women, must of the time he will speak for both. He walks us through the three generations of the Jefferson family, including the generation of Emily’s father, Emily’s own generation, and the ‘future generation,’ which are the children of Miss Emily’s own generation (the kids of the people her own age). The narrator is a bit harsh on the first two generations, and with this is simple to see that because of this hard and racist narration, it led to her downfall and loss of control. This gives the story a sense of almost confessional feel to it. The narrator explains how Emily’s life was supposed to be lived at a high level and when this almost lower-middle class person rejects her (Homer) and starts spreading rumors that him and her had sex drives her mad, to the point where she loses control and focus of reality and kills homer and this is like a confession made by Emily in the story.
The story is divided into five sections, and the plot is all over the place. Of these five sections, you must put them in order to make sense of what is happening. It starts with section I, where Emily is dead, and they are having her funeral in her house, which is well refined and in a good neighborhood. In section II, people in the town are complaining about strong odors coming from Emilie’s house, her dad had just dies and she’s been abandoned by the man she was supposed to be marring. In section III, Emily is thought to be very sick after her father’s death, during that summer the town contracts a company to pave the sidewalks and this is where homer comes in (the guy she was supposed to marry). In section IV, people are scared that Emily will kill herself, there had been rumors that she bought rat poison and was going to use it on herself. Some women get together and send the Baptist minister to check up and her and after that visit he swears he will never enter the premises and or speak of what he saw.
In section V, what happens after Emily dies is explained, after her funeral they go up to the room where homer was poisoned, and the town people recognizes him after almost 30 years of being dead and this is how the story ends. This story is all over the place but after some digging and observations you can figure out the plot that she killed homer because; jealousy of him not marring her and/or his lying about them being together and him telling people he didn’t want her. In this story ‘A Rose for Emily’ there are a couple of symbols. For example, Emily herself and the house are a symbol of death and pestilence, while she’s alive this house is nothing but a smelly and scary place to look at but when Emily dies the house belongs to the city and they are free to do whatever with it. The symbol of the rose shows that Emily found love with Homer Barron. Her father though told her and emphasized that no man will ever be good enough for her, so the rose symbolizes the love she felt for homer for the short period of time.
All in all, this story is perfect for using the reader response criticism because this story is like a scavenger hunt, the answers are all there, but you must look, study, and be patient with the story so you figure it out. You must interact with the story, figure out the time line and everything will fall into place. As sick and twisted this story might be, it teaches you something very important: don’t let pride get the best of you.
- Faulkner, William. ‘A Rose for Emily.’ Portable Literature. Ninth Ed. Kirszner and Mandell. 2015. 143-151.
A Rose for Emily Critical Essay
Life is an ongoing process, and in its ever-changing rhythm people have to adapt to new conditions and assume new view and attitudes. Flexible people generally succeed in following the right way in the developing course of existence, while more conservative ones find themselves stuck in the past and too outdated to be full-fledged members of contemporary society.
The necessity for moving forward and not clinging to the past was voiced already in the biblical story of Lot’s wife, and the topic has been actual ever since. The misery of those who are unable to accept the reality and to get free from the influence of the past is the main theme of William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily”, where the protagonist, Miss Emily Grierson, becomes a white crow and an object of both ridicule and pity due to her fanatic devotion to the ideals of the past.
The theme a person trapped in old time is developed by Faulkner through a whole set of literary devices, among which symbolic images play a substantial role. To emphasize Miss Grierson’s belonging to the Pre-Civil War South, Faulkner surrounds her by objects that symbolize that past. The first and foremost symbol is the house she lives in: a large mansion situated in the once “most select street”, it is furnished with once fashionable objects that now start to decay (Faulkner 90).
This miserable decay prompts an idea that the whole bygone splendor was not due to the owners themselves, but due to the everyday slave labor which once eliminated left the house to sink into the past. Faulkner implies bitter irony to describe the pitiful state of the Griersons mansion, the only neighbors of which are now not the estates of same grandeur but simple “cotton wagons and gasoline pumps” indifferent to the majestic culture of the old society (Faulkner 90).
Enhancing this museum-like state of the Griersons mansion, Faulkner introduces images and symbols of the same past into the house. Representative of the Pre-Civil War epoch is the Negro butler who had worked for the Griersons throughout his life and left only with Miss Grierson’s death. The influence of Miss Grierson’s father, who had oppressed and dominated her when he was alive, did not recede with the time, as after his death (which she stubbornly refused to admit) his crayon portrait was one of the main focal points in the parlor.
This dominance and arrogant attitude of the Griersons towards the surrounding society (they had always “held themselves a little too high for what they really were “) can also be traced in the fact that Miss Grierson’s only suitor came from a society different than that of Jefferson and that the description of his ways quite coincides with the way the Griersons are portrayed in a picture: “his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove“ (Faulkner 93–94).
Miss Grierson’s conflict with the present unfolds itself through her interaction with the contemporary society. She demonstrates a total obsession with old-fashioned ideas and principles when she refuses to pay taxes, motivating it with permission obtained from Colonel Sartoris — a man long dead but still alive in Miss Grierson’s imagination (Faulkner 92).
She opposes and rejects new postal rules, refusing to put up a number and a post box on the front door of her mansion (Faulkner 94). Last but not least, she ignores the public opinion and has things her own way secretly poisoning her disloyal suitor and thus preserves the reality the way she wants to see it.
Desperately fighting for preservation of her bygone past, Mrs Emily “prefers rather to murder than to die” (Fetterley 57). Thus she reveals her helplessness in face of contemporary society which she can neither accept nor put up with. Her conservatism is her tragedy, since it leads to her misery and destructively influences everything and everybody that gets in Mrs Grierson’s way.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing (8th ed.). Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 90–96. Print.
Fetterley, Judith. “A Rose for “A Rose for Emily”.” William Faulkner: Critical Assessments (Vol. I). Ed. Henry Claridge. East Sussex: Helm Information Ltd, 1999. 50–58. Print.
Importance of Point of View in “A Rose for Emily” Essay
In analyzing and understanding works of literature, one of the critical factors is the concept of point of view. It shapes the readers’ perception of the story, basing on the attitude the narrator assumes towards the themes and events described.
There are several varieties of the p.o.v. concept. On the one hand, it depends on the person who is telling the story (first, second, or third-person view); on the other hand, it is determined by the level of the narrator’s awareness (omniscient or limited omniscient point of view).
This essay addresses the concept of point of view in “A Rose for Emily” – William Faulkner’s short story. It is a curious example of first-person limited omniscient perspective, as it will be demonstrated below in the analysis. Narrator’s point of view in “A Rose for Emily” brings the readers closer to the related events on the one hand, and demonstrates his own mysterious nature on the other side.
Importance of Point of View in A Rose for Emily
Throughout the whole plot, the narration occurs from first person plural: ‘we’ is the pronoun Faulkner uses to emphasize that the events are related by an eye-witness or a whole group of eye-witnesses (28–34).
This ‘we’ represents a composite image of the town society and provides an account of not only Miss Grierson’s story but the history of several epochs. The collective character of the narrator reveals itself in such phrases as “our whole town went to her funeral”, “we were not pleased exactly”, “as is our custom”, “we believed”, “we remembered”, “we knew”, etc. (Faulkner 28, 30, 31).
The outward authority of such statements, together with the confident predictions of this composite image concerning Miss Grierson’s private life, creates an impression of a know-all (or omniscient) narrator who is farseeing enough to provide for the future course of events.
The tone of this collective reaction to every little occurrence in Miss Grierson’s life suggests that the pronoun ‘we’ may stand for the community of town gossips who want everything done their way and are outraged if things go out of their control.
The outward authority of the collective narrator, which should generally look reliable and inspire the readers’ trust, is therefore shaken by the idea that this narrator is a mere town gossip, spreading the rumors only for the fun of it. Thus, the ‘omniscient’ narrator’s opinion of Miss Grierson’s actions as weird and noncomplying is questioned by the suspicious character of the narrator as a gossip.
Moreover, several small details in the short story further complicate the mystery of the narrator’s personality. In the majority of ‘we’-statements, Faulkner introduces such phrases as “people “people in our town … believed”, “people were glad” (30). And here emerges a question: why should Faulkner use the word ‘people’ instead of the normal ‘we’? Why us he using a literary device that makes the message somewhat inconsistent? The obvious answer is that this is done to contrast the narrator with the rest of the crowd.
Adding to this contrast is the final scene of breaking into the secret room in Miss Grierson’s house. For one thing, the narrator provides a foreshadowing by saying, “Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years” (Faulkner 34) — how on earth did they know about it? In such light, the narrator appears to be someone initiated into Miss Grierson’s mystery.
For another thing, in the scene of breaking in, the narrator suddenly switches to the pronoun ‘they’: “They held the funeral on the second day,” “They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground” (Faulkner 34). Although the normal ‘we’ reappears soon afterward, this sudden change of the narrator’s relationship to the town crowd cannot go unnoticed.
This research paper addressed the issue of narrator’s point of view in “A Rose for Emily”. Analysis shows that the mysterious first-person narrator, who outwardly seems to represent the town society, intrigues by the knowledge of intimate details and casual opposition to the rest of the people. In summary, that has a crucial impact on the readers’ opinion of Miss Grierson since it suggests that she should not be taken the way gossips judge her and requires a more in-depth understanding as a unique personality.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, 5th ed. Eds. Aurthur X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. White Plains, NY: Longman, 2007. 28–34. Print.
“A Rose for Emily” Symbolism and Themes – Analysis Essay
This essay analyzes “A Rose for Emily”, its symbolism,main themes, messages, and tone. As the plot of the southern gothic story unfolds, the author uses certain symbols to show us the tragedy of human perishability.
“A Rose for Emily”: Themes & Historical Context
The end of the Civil War in 1865 brought many changes to the states of the South. The Old South, with its agrarian-based economy, and its residents were facing a dilemma. Should they adapt to these changes or try to continue with their social order and economy model? This time of changes is when the story takes place. Jefferson, Mississippi, is the setting of “A Rose for Emily”. Almost all of the townspeople there have decided to adapt to the changes except for one resident Emily Grierson, who dislikes the New South and refuses to get used to the new way of life.
Emily’s refusal to accept this new reality means that she clings to the social conventions which no longer exist, isolating herself from both the townspeople of Jefferson and their new lifestyle. This isolation reflects the main theme of “A Rose for Emily” – that is the necessity to adapt to changes brought upon us. From my point of view, Emily represents the reluctance to changes typical for some parts of the American society of that time. W.Faulkner effectively uses the events surrounding the main character to emphasize his message of adaptation that is necessary for us all and additionally introduces some vivid symbols in “A Rose for Emily” to describe her motivations and emotions behind her actions.
Stability and resistance to change are the main features of Ms Grierson’s character that develop during her younger years and that define her attitudes during her whole life. The only leaders Emily recognizes are the once-and-forever established authorities of her father and Colonel Sartoris.
Even after their death, Emily continues to insist on their existence. She does not recognize the fact that her father is not alive any longer, and she refers to the tax committee to the long-deceased Colonel Sartoris, who once relieved her of city taxes (Faulkner). Living in the past, Emily denies the present and the innovations it brings. Her mansion is the only building in the city that does not have “the metal numbers above her door and … a mailbox” (Faulkner).
Moreover, it is the only old house in the neighborhood that has become obliterated and turned into “an eyesore among eyesores,” a ridiculous monument to the past colonial grandeur. It is noteworthy, however, that Miss Grierson’s commitment to the old ideals is not accidental and is dictated by the conditions of her life and upbringing.
Raised in arrogance to the rest of the society, Emily Grierson transfers it to every aspect of her life. She ignores the demands to pay taxes, the glances at her butler, as well as the gossip of her entering a relationship with a stranger. Miss Grierson preserves her initial traditions and way of life by distancing herself from the rest of the townspeople.
As a result of her secluded life, there emerges a paradox: on the one hand, Emily Grierson refuses to accept the new lifestyle. On the other hand, she adapts to the new life conditions while dissociating herself from the Jefferson society. After some attempts to appear in public with her suitor or to give china-painting lessons, Emily chooses a secluded lifestyle and locks herself up in her house.
She becomes a living symbol of Jefferson, “motionless as … an idol” and barely ever speaking to anybody (Faulkner). Despite all the effort to save her lifestyle intact, Emily fails in her undertaking since she is mortal as any living being, and all the symbols of her past that surround her in daily life are equally perishable.
Conflict & Symbols in “A Rose for Emily”
The opposition between Miss Grierson’s desire for stability and the inexorable course of history frames up the fundamental conflict of “A Rose for Emily”. Symbolism is used by the author to immerse the reader in this conflict. . To emphasize Emily’s belonging to the Pre-Civil War South, William Faulkner surrounds her by objects that represent that past.
The first and foremost symbol of Miss Grierson’s époque is the place she lives in: “a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies” situated in the once “most select street” (Faulkner). The splendor of the mansion was almost unsurpassed in its better days, with endless fashionable objects filling its rooms. However, the once-grand place is subject to the inexorable course of time and shows visible signs of decay.
One of the most powerful symbols in “A Rose for Emily” is the image of dust that fills the house: not only does dust rise from the old leather furniture when visitors sit on it, but it also defines the smell of the house and its very atmosphere (Faulkner).
Symbolic of the memories and regrets, the dust appears throughout the whole story, acquiring a special significance in the scenes of Miss Emily’s death and the discovery of her suitor’s corpse in the house . In the short story, dust throws a dense veil concealing the mysteries of the Griersons family.
Faulkner employs bitter irony to describe the pitiful state of the Griersons’ mansion. Its only neighbors are now not the estates of the same grandeur but simple “cotton wagons and gasoline pumps” ― symbolic of new life and new values — indifferent to the majestic culture of the old society. This miserable decay prompts an idea that the whole past splendor was not due to the owners themselves but due to the everyday slave labor, which, once eliminated, left the house to sink into the past.
What does Homer symbolize in A Rose for Emily? The character of the Negro butler reminds of the Pre-Civil War époque and its slaveholding system that supported the existence of the wealthy white upper class. Faulkner introduces this image to enhance the museum-like state of the Griersons’ mansion. The old Negro butler works hard for the Griersons throughout his life and performs a range of entirely unnecessary tasks. He shows the visitors in and out of the house and then opens the blinds to let some light into the house.
Although Emily could have easily coped with those tasks herself, she prefers to keep the Negro butler as a way of emphasizing her high social status the way it was appropriate in her Pre-Civil War youth. Along with performing purely formal duties, the Negro butler constantly reappears with a market basket, which suggests that he is also in charge of the practical aspects of Miss Grierson’s household.
A notable occurrence in this respect is the complaint of the city dwellers concerning the peculiar smell from the Griersons’ mansion: “Just as if a man — any man — could keep a kitchen properly,” the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed” (Faulkner).
But even though a woman would be more suitable for running the house, Miss Grierson would not replace the Negro butler who is as much of a tradition in her life as she is in the life of the whole city.
On no occasion can he leave his owner, and therefore he grows gray and “doddering” and disappears from the house only with Miss Grierson’s death (Faulkner). Symbolic of Miss Grierson’s commitment to past ideals, the Negro butler is the part of her mystery, which he never reveals.
To further emphasize Miss Grierson’s striking adherence to the values of the Pre-Civil War époque, William Faulkner introduces the reader to the enormous influence of her father. He oppressed and dominated her when he was alive. He still spreads his authority on her life even after he passes away.
After his death (which Emily stubbornly refuses to admit), his crayon portrait is one of the main focal points in the parlor: “On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily’s father” as if overseeing and controlling all the events (Faulkner).
The dominance of Miss Emily’s father over her is clearly shown in the way they are described. “Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip” (Faulkner).
Therefore, it is not accidental that she chooses her only suitor according to his looks that coincide with the way the Griersons are depicted, “his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove “(Faulkner).
This action serves as an evidence of how arrogant the Griersons’ attitude to the surrounding society is and how eager Miss Grierson is to show the distance between herself and the community if she makes such a risky choice of a partner. Thus, additional emphasis is placed on the abyss dividing Miss Grierson and the Jefferson townsmen, the past and the present.
The dramatic changes take place without Miss Grierson: she remains the same self-willed woman throughout the whole story. However, despite the apparent stability in Miss Grierson’s character, an individual evolution can be traced in her through the symbolic image of her hair.
The first change in her hairstyle comes after her father’s death: “her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl” (Faulkner). By cutting her hair and thus recovering her youthful looks, Miss Grierson probably attempts to emphasize her girlish nature and her devotedness to her father. Over time, she grows older, and her hair becomes gray. This decay reflects the overall decay of the mansion and thus of the ideals that its inhabitants cherish. It becomes one of the most vivid symbol in “A Rose for Emily”.
Besides, the “long strand of iron-gray hair” found at the dead body of Miss Grierson’s suitor emphasizes the fact that although her body is decayed, her spirit remains strong enough to insist on her way of behavior (Faulkner). Thus a discrepancy comes to the fore between the aspirations of happiness and the inevitability of withering away with the time.
In “A Rose for Emily,” the theme of adapting to the changing environment is developed through the character of Miss Grierson and her reluctance to the changes.
In summary, the evolution can still be traced through the symbolic images of her mansion, her Negro butler, and her hair. Those images demonstrate that although Miss Grierson wishes to stick to the past, it is impossible due to the natural processes of decay and lavishing. As shown in this essay, symbolism in “A Rose for Emily” reveals the tragedy of human perishability.
William Faulkner and His Rose for Emily Essay (Critical Writing)
William Faulkner is considered to be one of the most prolific writers and among the most influential ones for that matter in the last century in American Literature. His numerous contributions to the literary field were so immense and, as a result, he became a Nobel Laureate and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949.
His oeuvres range from novels to short stories and poems, and he has created a permanent spot in the history of American literature. A Rose for Emily is regarded as one of the most outstanding and the most controversial pieces of work. This story is full of captivating details which can make a short story really interesting for the reader and for the critics.
On the one hand, the vast majority of critics admit that it is not a true style that was preferred by William Faulkner. On the other hand, it is always interesting to develop various experiments and intrigue the audience with extremely captivating ideas. In fact, William Faulkner made a successful attempt to impress the reader: his A Rose for Emily is a unique collection of ideas and themes which are always interesting to read and evaluate.
In spite of the fact that a number of negative opinions were developed around the story, even negative criticism attracted people’s attention and prove how mature the writer could be in the chosen style. Some critics defined A Rose for Emily as a kind of exploitative story not inherent to Faulkner, still, they talked about it and made the author recognizable. People said that even really talented writers could become famous and gain desirable respect and recognition only after their deaths.
William Faulkner proved that popularity had a variety of sides, and he chose the one that made his famous during his life, and immortal after his death. A Rose for Emily is the story that is characterized by numerous critical opinions: readers found the story interesting, unusual, and educative; and critics tried to admit as many negative or weak points as possible and prove that the chosen style, relations between the characters, and even frequent use of flashbacks were not winning enough to introduce the most amazing work ever.
William Faulkner usually chose some unpredictable development of the events in order to impress the reader and in order to make critics notice his work. Some critics admit that this story was full of “history’s unwillingness to advance, evolve, or progress” (Aboul-Ela 18). During his life, Faulkner was able to get a number of various opinions and attitudes to his work, still, he was always confident of his abilities and writing style.
In general, the criticism that was developed during the time when the author was alive had more negative than positive nature, and it was hard to recognize a true interpretation of a story and unclear narration offered. So that “the critical cannon of A Rose for Emily has become as bloated as the character herself” (Farnoli, Golay, and Hamblin 243).
There were many different themes which have been criticized, and critics found it rather interesting to discover weak and strong points of the story: flashbacks which helped to understand that “aunt Emily was … a little different” (Faulkner and Robinette 10) seemed to be weak enough to explain the essence of the author’s message and the method of characterization seemed to be more strange.
Much attention was paid to the relations between Emily and her father which lead to the tragic end of the relations with Homer. It is always interesting to define who should be blamed for a human death, women’s tears, and pain that may be spread over many people around.
In fact, with the help of a critical overview, it was possible for the reader to comprehend a true genre of the shot story, and it was not a horror story but an educative lesson that proved ho blind people with their assumptions could be.
In spite of the fact that Faulkner was known during his life and a number of his works had been already recognized, not all readers were able to accept his new decision to introduce horrors. And some reader accepted A Rose for Emily not as “a ghost story at all but rather a story of a woman with a domineering father who grows old and dies in the small… town” (Marius and Anderson 5).
In my opinion, this particular story by William Faulkner is characterized by the opinions which could be hardly differentiated before and after his death. There are many supporters and opponents of his talent as they were during his life. It is not very difficult to define some powerful aspects of the story like an amazing flashback at the end of the story when Homer was discovered on Emily’s bed. This idea proved that the power of a woman is worth attention and recognition. Even now the relations between women and men are not similar to each other, and each story may have its own end either dramatic or happy.
This is why there are so many reasons to respect the achievements of the author and his ideas which are expressed through the story. A Rose for Emily seemed to be an immortal calling by Faulkner with the help of which he reminds the readers that each type of relations without considering whether it is developed at early times (like it was with Emily’s father) or when a person grows up (the relations with Homer) has its own consequences and may influence a lot of aspects which are so crucial for a human life.
The work was first published in 1930 in a copy of Forum, a magazine (Reuben). It was easily one of those short stories that featured most in many collections of short stories. It was a work that was not easy to interpret. This is why so many possible and plausible interpretations appeared within a short period of time. The story was popular at the time of its publication. “A Rose for Emily is by far the best-known, most reprinted, most widely read, and most discussed short story” (Towner and Carothers 63).
In general, the story A Rose for Emily introduced by William Faulkner at the beginning of the 20th century is a perfect lesson for people who live in modern world. Very often people are blind because of the opportunities offered and cannot define their own weaknesses. On the one hand, it is a terrible truth that has to be admitted and cannot be understood. And on the other hand, A Rose for Emily becomes more amazing and educative story that fulfils this life and helps to discover the essence of the life.
Aboul-Ela, Hosam. Other South: Faulkner, Coloniality, and the Mariategui Tradition. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 2007. Print.
Fargnoli, Nicholas, Golay, Michael, and Hamblin, Robet. Critical Companion to William Faulkner: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2008. Print.
Faulkner, William and Robinette, Joseph. A Rose for Emily. Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Publishing, 1983. Print.
Marius, Richard and Anderson, Nancy. Reading Faulkner: Introductions to the First Thirteen Novels. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2006. Print.
Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 7: William Faulkner.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. 2010. Web.
Towner, Theresa and Carothers, James. Reading Faulkner: Glossary and Commentary. Collected Stories. Mississippi: The University of Mississippi Press, 2006. Print.
Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner Essay
The character of Emily Grierson in William Faulkner’s short story, “A Rose for Emily”, leaves the reader in dilemma as to whether Emily is the protagonist or the antagonist. Faulkner uses an unknown narrator reveal to the reader a woman who has mixed character traits. So complex is her character that the reader is left wondering who the real Emily is. Emily is a recluse, out of choice and fate.
Despite her reclusion, Emily is a monumental unmovable figure who can be pitiful yet irritating at times. She also portrays other contrasting characters such as stubborn yet gullible thus attracting the description, the eccentric woman. Thus Emily’s character plays an important role in the development of the plot as well as the story.
Emily is a monumental figure imposed upon the town by Col Sartoris. Col Sartoris had withdrawn her obligation towards the town to pay tax and as such making her a dependent of the town therefore making her “a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town….” (Faulkner 47). Privileges such as being exempted to pay tax are only a reserve of the most honorable citizens of any land. The reader expects Emily to show gratitude to the town’s people and as such be more agreeable and open to them.
However, Emily chooses to live in seclusion, irritatingly demanding to live by her own rules and often refusing to obey the societal norms. When she opts to marry Homer’s without making proper wedding plans, this anger and irritates the town’s people. So much were people irritated by this scandalous affair that they at one time thought that she was crazy (Faulkner 52).
Faulkner also presents Emily as both the protagonist yet and an antagonist. As protagonist Emily is seen as the good person who has attracts the love and honor of the town’s people. When she dies every one in the town attend her funeral. Mostly, the men did so out of thoughtful affection for her (Faulkner 47). This means that despite her irritating behavior people still found it appropriate to show love and respect to her.
Despite the affection she attracts from people, Emily is also seen as the antagonist, the character who goes against the grain and general expectation. Despite her reclusive behavior, the town’s people do knot expect her to be a murdereress, let alone to the person she is intimate with. When she orders for poison, people think that she would kills herself but ends up killing Homer her lover (Faulkner 55). This adds to her eccentricism.
Emily is also presented a stubborn yet gullible woman. Her gullibility is seen in the fact that her father is able to totally control her entire life. He refuses all attempts to marry her and treats the men who approach her with a lot of disdain. Her father exerted so much control over her that the reader is tempted to think that this was the possible cause of her reclusiveness.
Yet still Emily was a stubborn woman and no one could convince her easily to do anything. Even in the face of grief and loss she stubbornly refused to show any emotion (Faulkner 52). This further confuses the reader further as to her true identity, and thus support the claim that she very much the eccentric woman.
Emily behavior leave no doubt that she is s peculiar character. Most of the things that she does are the opposite of expectation. However, she still attracts pity from the reader as well as the town’s people. Thus she still can be seen as a normal human being struggling with common human weaknesses.
Faulkner, William. “A rose for Emily.” Selected Short Stories. New York: Modern Library. 1993. Print
A Rose for Emily Research Paper
“A Rose for Emily” was first published in 1931 by an American writer; William Faulkner.it is a fictional work that is based on a city called Jefferson in Mississippi in Yoknapatawpha County. The story is about Emily, the daughter of Mr. Grierson, a once prosperous Jefferson businessman.
Due to his enormous wealth, Mr. Grierson was owed by the council responsible for tax collection a colossal amount of money, a fact that prompted Colonel Sartoris to exempt the bereaved Emily from her tax responsibility. The most interesting thing about the town and Emily in particular is the fact that her house, which once stood in an elegant upscale neighborhood, is the last sign showcasing one’s splendor.
The story takes a twist when a new town leader succeeds Colonel Sartoris as the leader and sends board members of the Aldermen to request her to resume her obligation of tax remittance. However, Emily refutes this request and asserts that she is not obliged to pay taxes in Jefferson. She tells off the official, and requests them to consult colonel Sartoris about the matter (Robinette and Faulkner 1-17).
A rose for Emily is one of the books that is rich in styles that are employed to bring a clear picture of the theme story. One of the styles employed by the writer is flashback. The writer takes us back through a flashback to better our understanding on the foundation of the paper.
This method as a style allows the writer to give information, details or explanations in regard to the present situation or scene. For instance, the writer introduces us to Emily as a young girl and how his father had rejected various suitors terming them as not being suitable for his daughter.
After this, a battle ensues between Emily and the town citizens when a foul smell is detected from her father’s house and it culminates with the judge ordering that the residence be sprinkled with lime at night to kill the awful smell. After a week, the smell dies of and the town people get wind that Emily’s father had died. The women of the town decided to console Emily having in mind that her aunt had gone mad.
However, Emily meets them at the door and denies that her father had died. She puts up this shirred for three days, but eventually decides to hand over the body for burial. As a character in the book, Emily seems to take dramatic twists. After her father’s death that summer, she becomes very sick which coincides with the town awarding a contract to a company under the stewardess of Homer to construct sidewalks. This gets complicated when Emily and Hormer start an affair and are sported doing buggy rides together.
The story culminates in a gruesome and horrific manner. Emily goes to a drug store to purchase arsenic, but under the town’s regulations, she is supposed to disclose what she intended to do with the poison. She claims that it is for a rat infestation, but the town people don’t believe her and think that she intended to commit suicide or better still, kill Homer.
One night, Homer goes to Emily’s place and is never heard of again. Emily cuts off herself from the town and lives a life of seclusion. She closes the top floor of her house and grows grey. Eventually Emily dies at the age of seventy-four and her body is laid on the parlor as the men, women and the elders of the town pay her their last respect.
After a lapse of time, the door that sealed the upstairs is broken to the shock of the town. The room is frozen to show how time had lapsed; items showcasing an upcoming wedding are on display. To the shock of most of those present, there was a body that was at an advanced stage of decomposition. It later turned out that the body belonged to Homer Barron. To the people’s amusement there was an indentation of a head next to Homer’s body and a long grey strand of Emily hair lying lifeless.
Although “A Rose for Emily” is termed as William Faulkner’s best book, there are major criticisms for the book. For instance, the structure of the story begins on a dramatic precept where first, we have the announcement of Emily’s death. The writer then gives as the story of Emily through the third omniscient where we have “we” to represent the town people and we are taken back through a flashback.
Interestingly in the story, Emily falls in love with Homer who is a southerner just like the writer and Emily herself being a Northerner, was a ready recipe for chaos. This brings as critics to look into the aspect of perception in terms of how people view each other in relation to where they come from and their birth place.
In addition to this, the writer introduces us to another conflicting aspect. This is the issue of status quo, where according to Emily’s father; her daughter was to be married to a certain class of people. This was the reason he turned away the various suitors who sought Emily’s hand in marriage.
According to some critics, this was the resultant cause of Emily’s poisoning Homer and slipping with his dead body. This is precipitated by the fact that before Homer’s disappearance, Emily’s cousins had paid her a visit and most likely, he was against the planed wedding (Getty, 230)
Lastly, the writer introduces us to insecurity as a theme. This aspect also adds to the debate as being the cause for Emily killing Homer. From the story, we know that Emily’s previous fiancée had run away and abandoned her. This act caused her to be insecure, which made her to think that Homer would do the same and also leave her.
She results to killing him as being the surest means of holding on to him (Petry 52-53). The most striking aspect of the story is that although it is a work of fiction and having in mind the concept of suspending disbelief, it is rather absurd that nobody finds Emily’s behavior quire in that Homer disappears without anyone noticing right after Emily had bought poison from a drug store.
It is also incredible that the people of the town, especially the women, who had never glanced the inside of Emily’s house did not have the slightest curiosity to check the house right after Emily’s death, but the town took a long spell of time after her death to break down the door to the upper stairs. According to some critics, this is a method of “filling in the gaps” on the part of the writer to come up with a logical storyline.
Getty, Laura. Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. Explicator 63(4).Pp. 230-234. 2005. Print.
Petry, Alice. Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. Explicator. 44(3). Pp. 52-53. 1986. Print.
Robinette, Joseph and William Faulkner. A Rose for Emily. New York: Dramatic Publishing, 1983. Print.
The voice of Faulkner Essay (Critical Writing)
William Faulkner’s writing in three short stories (‘A Rose for Emily’, ‘Barn burning’, and ‘As l lay dying’) is highly emotional, complex, gothic and has an unconventional choice of narrators. These attributes denote two literary elements and they are: language and style. One can analyze those two elements in order to understand William Faulkner’s voice.
How Faulkner uses language and style in ‘A Rose for Emily’, ‘Barn burning’ and ‘As I lay dying’
Emotional and poetic language
Faulkner has the ability to be intensely emotional in most of his pieces without really sacrificing the story line or the strengths of his characters. In ‘Barn burning’, the author evokes emotions by compressing deep meaning in just a few lines. In one scenario, Sarty says ‘Father! Father!’ (Faulkner, As I lay dying 14)These might seem like simple words, but they are packed with meaning. The reader is able to feel a sense of loss, sadness, and a hint of relief as the speaker makes this statement. The author allows his phrases to possess some level of ambiguity in order to give his readers room to interpret or create their own meaning. In ‘As I lay dying’, the author uses one of his characters to convey literary or poetic language. Darl is extremely articulate and his language is quite innovative.
Faulkner has the ability to bring out elements of death, decay, destruction, isolation and darkness in a unique way. This component in his writings caused him to stand out from his contemporaries. In ‘A rose for Emily’, Faulkner creates an image of a woman who clearly does not belong to her world. She refuses to leave her house for years on end; she stops talking to everyone, has an affair with a disapproved male, and finally murders her lover.
Here was a woman who was trapped in the past, and had alienated herself from life. Emily had a lush and beautiful environment outside her house; she never bothered to look at it. She chose to live in darkness, both literally and metaphorically as she never drew her curtains. This depiction of deep darkness was something that Faulkner always focused on; it added a gothic element to his writings and made it distinctive.
In ‘As I lay dying’, the author selects a relatively poor family- the Bundrens. Although the group is ignorant and has a series of other weaknesses, the author still conveys their experiences with empathy and grace. The setting of the community in which the Bundrens live has an element of grotesqueness because it focuses on members of the lower class.
The death of Addie is also one of the dark and disturbing components of the narration. Additionally, Faulkner describes the destruction of Darl in such a tragic and dignified manner. One cannot help but feel the same devastation that surrounded that development. The gothic style in this narrative is therefore reflective of the author’s preference for dark tales.
In ‘Barn burning’, the author’s preference for the bizarre is seen through his choice of characters. This is a dysfunctional family whose head has a need to burn houses. He causes his children to participate in his wrongdoings by instructing them to help him out with a few things.
It only gets worse for Sarty when the Major chooses to kill his father before he can destroy his barn. Eventually, the young boy keeps running until midnight, when he stops to sit at the crest of a hill. This must be a dark moment in Sarty’s life because he did not have a father anymore, yet he also ran away from people who love him. These are all depressing issues that cause the reader to empathize deeply with Sarty.
Faulkner had a complex style of writing owing to his treated of time, his use of long sentences and unconventional sentence structure, his preference for ambiguity, and his use of stream of unconsciousness.
One of the most interesting component’s of Faulkner’s style of writing was his complicated treatment of time. He achieves this by changing from narrator to narrator and from character to character. The lack of chronology in his pieces is the reason why some unseasoned readers find his work difficult to follow. In ‘A rose for Emily’, the story commences with the main character’s death. This is followed by many events that occurred in the modern age to the period just before the Civil war in the South.
The present is sometimes interrupted by events in the past and the past sometimes appears to be the present. One is able to deduce this interweaving of events through phrases such as: ‘thirty years before’ or ‘eight years later’ (Faulkner, A rose for Emily 17). It is almost as if Faulkner is giving his audience little pieces of a puzzle that must be put together in order to understand the whole narration.
The time movements have been achieved through the use of flashbacks and foreshadows. The end of the story illustrates that the entire piece has been a flashback since it talks about the discovery of the corpse of Homer in Emily’s house. Faulkner did not just choose this non linear approach in order to make his work interesting or to confuse readers; he did it in order to make his readers engage more with the text.
As one goes through the story, one is likely to be inspired to compare chronologies with other people so as to detect any possible misreading. In these discussions, one can then analyze the thematic repercussions of those chronologies. This unconventional style has a way of making readers more engrained in the narration, and hence more likely to admire his work.
The same thing occurs in ‘As I lay dying.’ Although the story spans through a couple of days, the author utilizes the perspectives of several voices in order to bring in a different dimension to the story. Faulkner manages to create a sense of wholeness despite the fragmentary nature of the story. The various sub plots that are added from time to time seem to add more strength to the story. The ambiguity of the narrators requires meticulous analysis of their descriptions because not all of them are credible.
Complexity is also created in ‘Barn burning through the use of long sentences. This method has also been employed in ‘As I lay dying’. The long sentences can make it difficult to follow the narrative, if one does not pay close attention 9Faulkner, as I lay dying 65). He is fond of this style of writing because he wants to capture the action and emotions that his characters are going through.
When Sarty starts chasing after de Spain, the author describes this experience using very lengthy sentences. As one reads them, one gets lost in the events of the moment. One can feel the confusion and sense of loss that Sarty is going through using this technique. Faulkner therefore achieves his objective by causing readers to get carried away. Since there is no slowing down in the sentences, there is also no slowing down with the actions being described.
Unconventional choice of narrators as an element of style
In ‘A rose for Emily’, the writer uses the town as the main voice in the short story. As the story continues, one learns about the habits and values of the people in Emily’s hometown. This narrator does not pre-empt anything in the short story. He seems to discover new things along with the audience.
For instance, in one scenario, the narrator states that there was an awful smell from Emily’s house, and adds that it occurred as soon as her sweetheart died. He does not provide any correlation between these two components of the tale. It is only until the end of the story that the reader is able to know where the smell came from. The narrator, provides additional information, but still strives to maintain suspense in the story.
In ‘Barn burning’, the author picks an omniscient narrator who seems very close to Sarty. The purpose of selecting such a voice was to make the main character get closer to readers. At one point, one feels as though one has entered Sarty’s mind. Since he is someone who understands things through symbols, the writer presented or explained things through such a perspective.
For example, when Sarty went to court, he describes the crowd as having ‘a lane of grim faces’. Numerous metaphors have been used, that relate to a child’s perspective. In another instance, he describes his father’s voice as being harsh as tin and lacking heat as tin. However, the author manages to illustrate that Sarty was not in fact the real narrator when Sarty and his family are out camping and his father makes a small fire.
It is noted that Abner does not hesitate to create large fires when burning other people’s barns. The narrator muses that had Sarty been older, he would have asked himself why this was the case. The author therefore plays with reader’s minds by providing more than one possibility for the narration. This kind of style was fundamental in providing essential details to the story while providing a mechanism for understanding the main character’s actions.
Perhaps the most complicated choice of narrators occurred when the author wrote ‘As I lay dying’; there are fifteen narrators in the story and each of the descriptions is highly subjective. Each narrator has his own kind of language and tone. Some of the narrators re confessional and seemingly neutral, but they end up loosing credibility later on.
For instance, one of the first ones –Darl – is an immensely articulate individual who seems to know what he is talking about. However, he is treated negatively by his family members who eventually take him to an asylum when he goes mad. To Faulkner, truth is debatable and depends upon the individual under consideration. The purpose for choosing such a complex interplay of narrators was to create a platform for adding more information to the story.
Instead of depending upon one individual to describe everything, the author decides to use both real and interior monologues that the characters have with themselves and others in order to concretize the story. Objectivity is evasive in ‘As I lay dying’, and this causes readers to think a little bit more intensively about the developments in the story (Blotner 44).
Stream of consciousness is also an important part of Faulkner’s complex writing. In ‘As I lay dying’, a number of narrators think about the death of the main character and they do this through continuous internal reflections. The same thing occurs in ‘Barn burning’. Sarty often describes his experiences as if they are flowing right out of his mind. For example, when his father walks in, he first describes what his father is wearing before he realizes that his father is in the house.
Faulkner was unsparing in his pieces; his words, plot and descriptions were intense and bold. His choice of characters and the lives they lived has grotesque or gothic inclinations. This author’s work was complex because of his sentence structures, his preference for ambiguity and his treatment of time. Lastly, the author’s choice of narrators was unconventional, but meaningful. Together, these components make Faulkner’s language and style exceptional in the literary world.
Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A biography. NY: Random House, 1984
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The corrected text. NY: Vintage publishers, 1991. Print
Faulkner, William. A rose for Emily. NY: Dramatic publishing, 1983. Print.
Faulkner, William. Barn burning. NY: Harper and brothers, 1939. Print.
William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” Reaction Paper
In “A Rose for Emily,” William Faulkner depicts a conflict between the hopes and dreams one has and the environment that can ruin everything. In this reaction paper to one of the most prominent Faulkner’s works, I attempt to describe and analyze the strategies that the author used to make this conflict acute and sympathetic to the reader.
A Rose for Emily: William Faulkner’s Writing Strategies
The analysis of the text shows that Faulkner uses different techniques to tell his story and convey it in a manner that the reader can understand and relate to it. In the first paragraph of part I, the writer uses symbolism to portray the main character, Miss Emily Grierson, as an important figure of the community. He writes, “The men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument (Miss Emily)”(Faulkner,1930).
In his story, the writer also uses the technique of reverse chronology; the story starts with its ending at Miss Emily’s funeral. What is supposed to be the end of this story is the beginning, i.e., “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument” (Faulkner, 1930). He uses this to evoke an emotional response from the reader. We will gradually get acquainted with Emily, but we already know what awaits her in the end.
In “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner uses flashback as a strategy to inform us of the prior events following Miss Emily’s death and her lonely life, for example we are told of the day the neighbors complained to the mayor Judge Stevens about the smell emanating from her house and how four men slunk to her house like burglars to sprinkle lime, we are also taken to her past when people felt a strong personal reaction of sorrow for her, here we are reminded of her great aunt Lady Wyatt and how she had gone crazy.
This strategy has helped the writer inform the readers of the background information that led to the subsequent events in the narrative (Faulkner, 1930).
What happens in A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner? What is this story about? The theme of betrayal is seen quite clearly in all parts of the plot. The father betrays Miss Emily Grierson; he doesn’t allow her to go out and be a normal girl; she is denied the pleasure of finding love; according to her father, none of the men were good enough for her. Emily remains lonely after her father’s death.
The reader also observes the theme of betrayal when Homer Baron betrays Miss Emily by neglecting her. The narrator explains that they were sure that Miss Emily and Homer Baron the foreman would get married; they had learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler and ordered a toilet set with the initials H.B. on each piece.
However, that wasn’t the case part IV paragraph one illustrates this, “She will marry him.” Then we said, “She will persuade him yet,” because Homer himself had remarked–he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks’ Club–that he was not a marrying man.” Emily’s reaction was violent. It ended tragically by her killing Homer.
One gets the impression that the story tries to portray a conflict between the North and the South, Emily Grierson is seen to represent the victorious South while Homer represents the North which can be said to have lost the battle when he was killed by Miss Emily using the arsenic poison.
We can see this when the writer introduces the foreman (Homer) in the first paragraph of part III as a Yankee (he emphasizes on his origin), and in the third paragraph the ladies are heard gossiping, “of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer” the Grierson were Southerners”. At this stage of the narrative, a reader would get the impression that there is a conflict between the Northerners (Baron Homer) and the Southerners (Grierson).
However, the author denied the existence of this conflict. In an extract from Faulkner at the University: Class Conference at the University of Virginia 1957-1958 showing the answer he gave to a March 11, 1957 question about the existence of this battle, he denies its existence though he acknowledges that if it really existed then it was purely incidental and that he had no intention of portraying that battle (Barnett et al., 2007)
A Rose for Emily: Reaction
On reading the story for the first time, you get the impression of a suffering Emily Grierson, a lonely woman staying lonely in the same setting after her father’s death. Her only connection to the world was her negro servant -Tobe, who was seen once in a while with a market basket going in and out of the house (Faulkner,1930). One can’t help having a strong personal reaction of pity to “A Rose for Emily” main character.
The reader also gets the impression of Miss Emily as a woman held in the past; in the second paragraph of “A Rose for Emily,” William Faulkner gives a scenic account of the setting that Emily Grierson lived. It had previously been the select street for most of the residents of Jefferson, but it had changed, the street now had garages, cotton gins, and gasoline pumps, It wasn’t fit for habitation, but still, Miss Emily chose to live there. The narrator describes it as an eyesore among eyesores.
A Rose for Emily was written for everyone who has dreams and hopes. Therefore the story was written for all of us, as we all have dreams and aspirations in life. The story shows the conflict between the hopes and dreams that we have against the environment and others whom we don’t share the same dreams.
In this story Miss Emily was a young lady in her thirties she had dreams of one day being loved, loving, getting married and starting a family, soon enough she meets a man (Homer Baron), and they are in love. They are seen together driving in a yellow wheeled buggy, but he soon disappears. This illustrates the battle between Homer Baron and Miss Emily’s dreams (Barnett et al., 2007).
The title “A Rose for Emily” gives a glimpse of the intention that the writer had for writing this story, in an interview on the April 15, 1957 William Faulkner on being asked about the meaning of the title that he chose he answered that the woman had no life, she had been kept by her father in the house and locked up and she had murdered her lover who wanted to quit her. The title was, therefore, a gift for Emily for her battles against her father and her lover, who wanted to quit her.
The writer of the story wanted to manifest the injustices that man does to his own kind, Emily’s father denied her love, he couldn’t allow her to date, unfortunately repressing this urge backfired in a tragic form. All Emily wanted was love, but it all ended tragically (Barnett et al., 2007).
Personal Response and Inference
In summary, I have inferred from the story that life is a struggle between different elements. We struggle with our own selves, with our environment and with the people we love. Life can never be smooth enough. Even if we close ourselves to the world, trouble will still come knocking on our doors and that there are two things that are for sure in this world: death and taxes, as shown by the writer in Part I of A Rose for Emily”. This reaction paper demonstrates the strategies used by Faulkner to cause such an emotional response from the reader.
Barnet,et al. (2007) Literature for Composition;Essay,Stories,Poems,and Plays (10th ed) USA: Pearson. Web.
Du, Fang (2010). “Who Makes a Devil out of a Fair Lady? —An Analysis of the Social Causes of Emily’s Tragedy in A Rose for Emily”. Canadian Social Science. 3 (4): 18–24. Web.
Faulkner,W. (1930) A Rose for Emily,USA: Necrophilic. Web.
Petridis, Alexis (2017). “The story behind A Rose for Emily – and why it’s perfect for S-Town”. The Guardian. Web.
“University of Mississippi: William Faulkner”. Olemiss.edu. Web.
Ye Qi (2013). Megashift from Plot to Character In American Short Fiction: A Critical Study, 1900-1941. USA: WingsAsClouds Press. Web.
Critique for ‘A Rose for Emily’ Essay (Critical Writing)
First published in 1930, A Rose for Emily is a captivating must-read chef-d’oeuvre by Faulkner that artistically presents an account of a society that is immensely resistant to the inevitable change. Although the story is narrated in a manner that reflects a mix up of various chronological accounts, it is clear that the story can be analyzed from the perspectives of hidden messages underlying the themes of the story.
Dilworth (1999) is also inclined to this line of view when he asserts that Faulkner attempts to convey themes of change and death (p.253). Indeed, in the paper, I agree with this argument in the sense that, by using various references to A Rose for Emily, Dilworth evidences that death looms right from the first section to the fifth section of the story.
The themes of change are reflected by Miss Emily’s denial of the fate of death and refusal to comply with the obligation for paying taxes. In this perspective, Dilworth argues that the killing of Homer Barron “is eclipsed in the imagination of readers by evidence of some sort of necrophilia” (1999, p. 251).
The focus of this paper is to analyze the article, A Romance to Kill For: Homicidal Complicity in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” published in the journal of Studies in Short Fiction in terms of logicalness of the presented arguments coupled with giving the writer’s response to the article.
Dilworth sees the existing relationship between the narrator and Emily as largely symbiotic. This means that Emily and the society represented by the narrator can only exist mutually with each other. To reinforce this argument, Dilworth argues that the traits and behaviors of Emily are creations of the narrator thus implying that he presents Emily as the symbol of communicating what he believes to be the cultural values of the society in which he lives.
Arguably, therefore, the actions of the main character such as killing followed by evading justice and failure to pay taxes without any legal action being taken upon her are depictive of the eminent shortfalls of the white society of the south during the time of writing of the short story.
For instance, quoting a critique of the short story (Helen Nebeker), Dilworth affirms, “the narrator’s awareness of events implies long held knowledge of murder which the narrator has kept secret to preserve the honor and myth of the south” (p.253). Arguably, therefore, this means that the society was aware of certain atrocities that were committed by certain highly profiled persons and yet they could not be brought to book.
According to Dilworth, this happened due to the idealization of white women belonging to high-class social status. This is evidenced by Dilworth’s argument, “white women of class were not to be troubled by certain worldly obligations” (Dilworth, 1999, p.258). The negation from complying with the worldly obligations includes the refusal to pay taxes.
As Dilworth puts it, the society represented by Emily is highly segregated in terms of compliance to legal provisions. For instance, he argues that Emily went to buy arsenic though on request to explain what and how she meant to use it. She declined to reply although it was a legal requirement for her to do so. Nevertheless, the drug dealer could not force her to do it or even refuse to sell it to her.
Another issue that concerns Dilworth is the nature of the society depicted by Emily in terms of equal applicability of justice especially in the case where a stench issued from Emily’s house. When the matter was brought before a judge, he “refused to make a public issue of it since one does not accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad” (Dilworth, 1999, p.255). Dilworth does not hesitate to criticize the Christianity as being characterized by religious hypocrisy.
For instance, he argues that the fact that Emily and Barron lived together before they were legally married implied that the society engaged in fornication yet people like Emily were Christians. In this context, Dilworth claims that Emily “chose to enter into collusion with the society to the extent of maintaining her image as a proper high-class southern Christian” (Dilworth, 1999, p.255).
However, Dilworth maintains that he believes that the society never knew about the evils of Emily until her death, and a rotting corpse was found by the side of an indent of a woman with Emily’s hair resting on it. However, he also raises several counterarguments including the knowledge of the townspeople that she had bought arsenic, which, if she was to take it, could have made her kill herself (p.269). In a different perspective, this implies that Dilworth thinks that the townspeople are also capable of committing homicide.
One of the central concerns of Dilworth entails placing a logically substantive argument about the townspeople’s knowledge of homicide. In particular, Dilworth argues, “on the basis of the evidence, it is inconceivable, I think, that the townspeople did not know early on about Emily’s killing Homer Barron” (Dilworth, 1999, p.257).
Dilworth assumes that Emily must have expressed the guilt of her sins among the townspeople even though they may not have talked about it amongst themselves. In this argument, there is a breach of one element of logical argument. There lacks a direct evidence from the story depicting Emily in any state of remorse or any other form of emotion that shows her feeling for being sorry for either killing her lover or by denying her father’s death for four days.
However, in linking Emily with the death of Barron, Dilworth uses evidence from the story to prove his argument. For instance, he quotes the townspeople’s knowledge of the last time that they saw Barron enter his lover’s house by arguing out, “they knew that her lover was last seen entering at the kitchen door at dusk one evening” (Dilworth , 1999, p.258).
However, an alternative argument is considered in this particular situation whereby one would also think that Barron could have moved out of the house without the knowledge on the townspeople by chance just as it was by chance that they saw her enter the house. Therefore, although he provides evidence that it happened after Emily had bought the arsenic, Barron having deserted her, when a stench came out upon entering the house. Therefore, it becomes hard to approximate the time of poisoning exactly.
Dilworth places a question on why the four men sent by town council members to “scatter lime around the foundation of the house, in her cellular” (p.257) executed this task while they could have conceived that the intensity of the smell was far greater than that of a rotting rat or a snake as suggested by the judge.
While it could be possible for the four men to suspect that the smell should have emanated from a large corpse, it is also important to note that they could have possibly suspected that the corpse was of a human being if the men knew that Emily had the capacity to kill.
This is only possible if they had the experience of situations in which Emily had killed people and buried them secretly. In this sense, it becomes hard to prove that the four men had the knowledge that Emily could have killed somebody. Amid this argument, Dilworth is quick to point out that there is no evidence of what the four men thought of because Faulkner does not tell the reader about their thoughts. Consequently, this argument is illogical since it lacks evidences and necessary proofs.
Emily had engaged in a number of instances in which she defied her noble responsibilities to the state. She was defiant. Nevertheless, should this be enough to form the basis for the townspeople to suspect her as having taken her lover’s life? In this context, Dilworth argues, “apart from the recent or long awareness of the closed room, knowledge of Emily’s buying arsenic, her refusal to state its purpose, and the memory of the smell of corruption are enough to suggest a 40-year-old suspicion, if not outright certainty of murder” (p.259).
Logically, it is clear that Dilworth implies that, since the townspeople could have had the awareness of the situations in which Emily deviated from the moral line, the situations are also likely indicators of her involvement with killing her lover.
Unfortunately, the situations are distinctive: a clear margin can be drawn between them. Their interconnection that a situation results to another unrelated situation is a complete departure from logical reasoning since the evidences are not connected directly with the consequences associated with each situation.
There are many ways of interpreting or attaching meaning for any literary work. One way is to interpret it from the context of its setting. Historically, racial discrimination, denial of certain rights to women, and even belief in the superiority of persons in the high-class social group were issues that had to be dealt with in the early 20th century.
A Rose for Emily seems to be set within this chronological period. Consequently, it is possible that, through Emily, Faulkner actually portrayed the differences among people in relation to their social status.
This means that the society may have known about the evils committed by Emily. However, because of the fear associated with her social status, they could not have confronted her. From the arguments raised by Dilworth implicating Emily with the death of her lover, it is arguable that Emily’s failure to respond to the druggist about the purpose of the arsenic is an evidence of suspecting her to have poisoned her lover.
Otherwise, from the story itself, the reader is only told that the status of the corpse by the time it was found was in the last stages of decomposition. Nothing shows that the cause of death was through poisoning. This makes it hard to determine whether Emily actually poisoned rats, just as the arsenic was labeled ’for rats,’ or her lover.
A Rose for Emily is a short story written by Faulkner. It attracts valid interpretations. In this paper, the focus was to analyze Dilworth’s article ‘A Romance to Kill For: Homicidal Complicity in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” who provides one of the ways of interpreting the short story. The concern was to scrutinize the logic of the arguments presented by Dilworth. The paper has argued that, while some arguments are logical, others lack adequate evidence to support them.
Dilworth, T. (1999). A Romance to Kill For: Homicidal Complicity in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. Studies in short fiction, 36(3), 251-264.