A Rose for Emily and Other Stories by William FaulknerIf youve never read anything by William Faulkner, read A Rose for Emily ... as long as you dont mind if things get a little gruesome.
I first read Faulkners classic A Rose for Emily in college years ago. Initially I just dropped a 4 star rating on it and left it at that. But then something happened. A few friends liked my rating, and this story kept stealing back into my mind like Homer Barron sneaking in through Emilys back door, and making itself at home in my head, an uninvited and a little bit uncomfortable guest.
So I starting doing a little research on the background of this 1930 story, and found it available to read online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/wf_r... (seriously, go read this today if youve never read it before). I read it again, and Im bumping my rating up to 5 stars.
The story begins and ends on the day of the funeral of Miss Emily Grierson, an institution in her southern town. In between, we find out more about Miss Emilys life and the traditions and expectations that bind both her and the town.
People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, 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, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.Time becomes fluid as stories and events from Emilys life are shared with the reader. The narrator always speaks as we, as if the entire town--and we ourselves--are complicit in the events of the story. Its a disturbing feeling, and the images of decay that permeate the story further this unrest: the cracked leather furniture, moldy pillows, the dust covering everything in her home, and of course the appearance of the older Emily herself:
She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough . . .When I was a college student, it was the ending of the story that was etched indelibly in my brain. Its still a shocker; I can only imagine the sensation it caused when it was published in 1930. But now I have a better appreciation for how skillfully Faulkner wrote this entire story, and the strange but pitiful character he created in Emily, dying alone in a house filled with dust and shadows.
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner (Summary) - Minute Book Report
A Rose for Emily
One of the numerous, underappreciated advantages of being a teaching assistant or lecturer is the opportunity to teach anthologized stories over and over again to more or less recalcitrant freshmen. Though surprises, good and bad, occur, one becomes pretty adept at anticipating students' reactions and deducing their readerly assumptions and habits. Few, for example, figure out unless their literary roommate has told them what the man and woman in "Hills Like White Elephants" are debating-though, when told, they find it very ironic that "Jig," the woman, consumes so much alcohol despite her apparent concern for her child. Most first-time readers of "Araby" recognize that the tale concerns juvenile infatuation, yet few appreciate, on their own, how the boy's feelings are colored and conditioned by his religious environment. Homer Barron, a bluff man with a "big voice" who "cuss[es] the niggers" and despoils Southern womanhood, gay?
Homer, much like Emily, is an outsider, a stranger in town who becomes the subject of gossip. Unlike Emily, however, Homer swoops into town brimming with charm, and he initially becomes the center of attention and the object of affection. Some townspeople distrust him because he is both a Northerner and day laborer, and his Sunday outings with Emily are in many ways scandalous, because the townspeople regard Emily—despite her eccentricities—as being from a higher social class. He carouses with younger men at the Elks Club, and the narrator portrays him as either a homosexual or simply an eternal bachelor, dedicated to his single status and uninterested in marriage. As the foreman of a company that has arrived in town to pave the sidewalks, Homer is an emblem of the North and the changes that grip the once insular and genteel world of the South.
A motive is not stated by the narrator, but when read critically a motive can be found. Some say that Homer was going to jilt Emily. Although homer was the not the marrying type, there is no evidence that homer was going to leave her.
why is my cat jumpy
Although the story begins with her death, the details of her life are revealed through flashbacks by an unknown narrator. Upon the death of her father, Emily becomes confused and disoriented. Although she continued on with her life—remarried, had four children, and lived to be an old woman—the loss of George continued to affect her. While the two stories contain similar themes, both are affected by different circumstances—Emily by her overbearing and overprotective father, Granny by her first jilting. The townspeople remain skeptical of Emily throughout the story. Another crucial aspect is the expansion of the town. She begins to describe her past; the children she raised, the lamps she lit, her first husband, etc.
The story is divided into five sections. Grierson had once lent the community a significant sum. As new town leaders take over, they make unsuccessful attempts to get Emily to resume payments. When members of the Board of Aldermen pay her a visit, in the dusty and antiquated parlor, Emily reasserts the fact that she is not required to pay taxes in Jefferson and that the officials should talk to Colonel Sartoris about the matter. However, at that point he has been dead for almost a decade. She asks her servant, Tobe, to show the men out. In section II, the narrator describes a time thirty years earlier when Emily resists another official inquiry on behalf of the town leaders, when the townspeople detect a powerful odor emanating from her property.
Read an in-depth analysis of Emily Grierson. Read an in-depth analysis of Homer Barron. Take the Character List Quick Quiz. A Rose for Emily by: William Faulkner. Themes Motifs Symbols. Important Quotations Explained.