Understanding “A Rose for Emily”

A Rose for Emily is a short story by William Faulkner. Faulkner uses a narrator to tell the story nonchronologically. Faulkner created a southern city, in his story, much like the one he personally lived in when he grew to be five.

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In A Rose for Emily Emily’s family are southern aristocrats. Emily’s father isolates her. The town considers Emily nothing more than a traditional duty even though they believe Emily is stuck up. After Emily’s father dies, Emily is in a state of denial, She told them that her father was not dead. (Faulkner 1000). Then a man named Homer Barron strolls into town with laborers. Emily takes a liking to him despite the possibility of Homer being a gay bachelor. The town disapproves of this possible union. Conveniently Homer is said to leave town around the same time Emily buys arsenic. Emily refuses to explain the use of the arsenic that she wishes to purchase. The town folk of Jefferson, Mississippi go to Emily’s home after she is buried. The town’s people explore Emily’s home to find a skeleton in a bed. It is implied that he skeleton belongs to Homer Barron. Next to the skeleton is a pillow with a gray hair on top. Is Emily mentally ill or has being secluded by her father and alienated by the town resulted in perverse actions?

Emily’s father issues seem to be the beginning of what will result in perverse actions. It is a strong possibility that a supportive home life could have prevented the killing of an innocent man. Emily’s father not only secluded Emily from a romantic suitor but her family as well. Emily’s great aunt went insane, the kin from Alabama had a falling out with the Grierson’s over land. The kin from Alabama did not even bother showing up to Mr. Grierson’s funeral.

We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will. (Faulkner 1000). Emily was in a state of denial for three days after her father died. Emily refused to let the body go and the town was going to have to result to law and force, although reluctant, Emily buried her father quickly. Emily’s father left her with the house but no money. Emily had no means to support herself. When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. (Faulkner 1000). During this time period it was custom for a woman to find a husband. Young women aspire to find love, get married and, start a family. Emily’s father ran away potential male suitors, keeping Emily secluded. Thus, Emily grew to be a woman above average age for marriage, Emily was labeled as a spinster.

Homer himself had remarked-he liked men in the Elks’ Club-that he was not a marrying man. (Faulkner 1001). It appears as if Emily has set herself up for failure by falling for a man that not only did not wish to marry, but a man who was not interested in the opposite sex. However, not all fingers should be pointed at Emily, as Emily was refused the chance to be courted. When she got to be thirty and was still single. (Faulkner 1000). However, it is easy for a woman like Emily, who has never been around men romantically, to fall for a man who is full of charisma. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group. (Faulkner 1000). The towns people began to see Homer and Emily together on Sundays.

The older towns folk were not happy with this union because they felt Emily should not forget her status. The towns folk even began to say that their union was a disgrace to the town and was a bad example. The towns people talked the minister into talking to Miss Emily, however, he would not disclose information, nor would he return to Emily’s home. The town originally called her cousins from Alabama in hopes to separate Emily and Homer’s union, but ended up hating the cousins, claiming that they were more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been. (Faulkner 1002). The town was upset that there was not a public break-up. Later Emily was witnessed buying men’s items which led the town to believe that they did get married.

Emily bought arsenic about the same time Homer Barron seemingly left town. When Emily was asked what the poison was for, she would not answer. Emily’s house began to smell so bad that a judge received multiple complaints. Because the judge refused to make a move, the town took it upon themselves and sprinkled lime around her house. Finally, after Emily’s burial, the entire town went to Emily’s home and began to snoop around. In a closed off room the towns people found a skeleton that was posed in an embracing position. The pillow next to Homer’s skeleton was an indentation and for further evidence, a grey hair lays upon the pillow. All in all, if Emily was not alienated from the town and her father, these perverse actions may not have occurred.

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