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Short Story Analysis “A Rose for Emily”

A Rose for Emily is written by William Faulkner, famous for his works based on ethnic disparity between blacks and whites in America. The novelist wrote most of the times using the theme of end of slavery and aristocratic class from American society. “A Rose for Emily” is first literary piece of work by Faulkner. The present analytic essay focuses on development of an understanding of the themes of crime, suspense, and mystery used in the story.

An overview of “A Rose for Emily” suggests that Miss Emily lived in Old Jefferson, Mississippi. She spent her life in an old family house in a seedy neighborhood that was quite fashionable once. She was immensely attached to her father who protected her from the evil intentions of the young women in the town as hard as with a horsewhip. She was too attached to her father to let his dead body to be released for three days. The story narrates social norms and social behavior and psychopath of the lead character in the story in five parts as the narration begins with the funeral of Miss Emily depicting the social obligation of funeral on the part of the townsfolk of Jefferson. The narrator proceeds in the next scene to the social behaviors of Miss Emily as the elders of the townsfolk approach her for tax paying, she refuses by telling them to consult Colonel Sartoris who exempted her from paying taxes on permanent basis. The next four parts reveal the personal life of Miss Emily as in her family life and attachment with her father, her behavior towards townsmen, her falling for Barron and how the townsfolk viewed her personality and social behavior. The narrator of the story, however, remains ambiguous making the reader to think if he is related to Miss Emily (Nebeker).

Analyzing the title of the story it appears that writer fosters a sympathy with Emily’s character, rose in Southern country has also been a sign of romanticism. During Faulkner’ times women carried flower as a token of love and intimacy that is the reason behind mentioning a rose with the name of the lead female character in the title (Kurtz). The story is vividly containing a detective element in it as Miss Emily goes to a pharmacy and buys arsenic right before the disappearance of Homer Barron and people saw him entering Grierson’ s house from the backdoor od kitchen in the evening and a dreadful stench surrounded Emily’ s house for a while. “A Rose for Emily” is written in expression by a main narrator character of the story are portrayed involved in mysterious activities in her routine life. (“William Faulkner Mystery & Detective Fiction Analysis – Essay – ENotes.Com”). The death of Emily not only tells a pass away of an individual rather it indicates the decay of aristocratic class that signified the South as the story begins with narrator saying “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral…” (Faulkner).

Emily got hooked up with a new arrival in the town Mr. Barron when she was thought to be too good for any of the local men in the town. Mr. Barron who arrived in the town as a foreman to a team of construction had courtship with Miss Emily, and the whole town expected them to get married. However, they apparently saw Homer Barron moved on. Miss Emily Rose, with the passage of time, lived more and more in solitude. Right after her funeral town’s men along with the narrator of the story entered Miss Emily’s house and forced their way into rooms locked upstairs. They were shocked and horrified to see the stuffed body of Homer Brown. On the pillow beside him was a head shaped indention with a long iron-grey hair strand (Malone & Edward, 1990). She ending up in Necrophilia that evidenced she withheld the past and rejected to live in the present. The short story is a read of horror and psychopathy.

On a conclusive note, the dark elements of loneliness and psychopathy make the story related to the deteriorated social life of South. It also relates to the end of a classic era of pre-modernism by narrating the end of a conventional family in the neighborhood of Jefferson, Mississippi, Southern country area. Emily was the last member of the family who lived in solitude after she lost her father and died in her solitude. She lost the connection with the community which is a major characteristic of post-industrialization contemporary society when the older ways of living and socializing diminished space were taken by the fast-paced modernism activities. The necrophilia of Miss Emily depicted her clinging to past and the death of aristocratic class and conventionality in South relates to Keats’ poem Ode to Autumn.

Works Cited

Malone, Edward A. “Nabokov on Faulkner.” The Faulkner Journal 5.2 (1990): 63.“William Faulkner Mystery & Detective Fiction Analysis – Essay – ENotes.Com.” ENotes,

Blythe, Hal. “Faulkner’s a Rose for Emily.” The Explicator, vol. 47, no. 2, 1989, pp. 49–50.

Dilworth, Thomas. “A Romance to Kill for Homicidal Complicity in Faulkner’s” A Rose for Emily”.” Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 36, no. 3, 1999, p. 251.

Faulkner, William, et al. A Rose for Emily. Verlag F. Schöningh Paderborn, De, 1958.

Keats, John. “Ode to Autumn.” Verse for You: A Collection of Verse for Senior Forms, 2010.

Kurtz, Elizabeth Carney. “Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily.” Explicator, vol. 44, no. 2, 1986, p. 40.



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