A Rose for
By William Faulkner
Introduction of Story
 First
published in April of 1930
 Became a Film in 1982
 Film only last 27 minutes
 Explores many themes such as: society of the
South, roles of women in the South, and extreme
psychosis disorders
 Wrote in first-person plural point of view
 Non-chronological ordering of episodes
Main Characters
 Miss
Emily Grierson: demented and dependant
 Narrator: perhaps the townspeople, effective gossiper
 Mr. Grierson: powerful
 Homer Barron: homosexual
About The Author
 William
 Born September of
 Nobel Prize (1949) and
Pulitzer Prize (1955 &
1962) winning novelist
 From Mississippi
 His works are known to
be very challenging and
Author Continued
 Known
as one of
America’s most
important fiction
 Work is known for
multiple narrations
and time shifts within
Context about W. Faulkerner
William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, in 1897.
One of the twentieth century’s greatest writers, Faulkner earned
his fame from a series of novels that explore the South’s
historical legacy, its fraught and often tensely violent present,
and its uncertain future. This grouping of major works includes
The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light in
August (1931), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936), all of which are
rooted in Faulkner’s fictional Mississippi county,
Yoknapatawpha. This imaginary setting is a microcosm of the
South that Faulkner knew so well. It serves as a lens through
which he could examine the practices, folkways, and attitudes
that had divided and united the people of the South since the
nation’s inception.
 In
his writing, Faulkner was particularly interested in
exploring the moral implications of history. As the South
emerged from the Civil War and Reconstruction and
attempted to shed the stigma of slavery, its residents were
frequently torn between a new and an older, more
established world order. Religion and politics frequently fail
to provide order and guidance and instead complicate and
divide. Society, with its gossip, judgment, and harsh
pronouncements, conspires to thwart the ambitions of
individuals struggling to embrace their identities. Across
Faulkner’s fictional landscapes, individual characters often
stage epic struggles, prevented from realizing their potential
or establishing their place in the world.
 “A Rose
for Emily” was the first short story that Faulkner
published in a major magazine. It appeared in the April 30,
1930, issue of Forum. Despite the earlier publication of
several novels, when Faulkner published this story he was still
struggling to make a name for himself in the United States.
Few critics recognized in his prose the hallmarks of a major
new voice. Slightly revised versions of the story appeared in
subsequent collections of Faulkner’s short fiction—in These
13 (1931) and then Collected Stories (1950)—which helped to
increase its visibility.
 Today,
the much-anthologized (编选集) story is among the
most widely read and highly praised of Faulkner’s work.
Beyond its lurid appeal and somewhat Gothic atmosphere,
Faulkner’s “ghost story,” as he once called it, gestures to
broader ideas, including the tensions between North and South,
complexities of a changing world order, disappearing realms
of gentility and aristocracy, and rigid social constraints placed
on women. Ultimately, it is the story’s chilling portrait of
aberrant psychology and necrophilia that draws readers into
the dank, dusty world of Emily Grierson.
Mysteries of This Work
Entertaining and
Interesting Story
Surprising Twist
Kept you guessing
through the whole story
Able to find a lot of
sources that revolved
around the discussion of
Central Argument
To discuss the effects of
time and the outcome of
old and new
How time reflects
different portraits of
Miss. Emily
Emily’s control of time
Authors ordering of
prove that time
has a significance
on the change of old
and new
New Words in the Short Story
 squarish:
somewhat square in appearance or form近似方形
 cupola: a roof in the form of a dome 【建】穹顶,圆屋顶
 spire: a tapering conical or pyramidal structure on the top of
a building, particularly a church tower塔尖
 scrolled:卷轴形的;弯曲的
 lightsome: carefree and happy and lighthearted轻盈的;轻
 gin: a machine to separate seeds from cotton轧棉机
 encroach: advance beyond the usual limit侵入;侵占
 obliterate: mark for deletion, rub off, or erase擦掉...的痕迹
 august:
of or befitting a lord; profoundly honored威严的;
 coquettish: like a coquette; alluring; enticing妖艳的;卖弄
 cedar:西洋杉;雪松;香柏
 bemused: bewildered; lost in thought含混
 edict: a legally binding command or decision entered on
the court record (as if issued by a court or judge)法令
 remit: release from (claims, debts, or taxes)豁免(捐税等),
 dispensation: an exemption from some rule or obligation
 involved: complicated复杂的
 alderman: a member of a municipal legislative body (as a
city council) (美国的)市议员
 archaic: things very, very old and outdated古代的,古老的;
 wait upon/on:侍候; (今罕)正式拜访
 dank: unpleasantly cool and humid阴湿的
 parlor: living room: a room in a private house or
establishment where people can sit and talk and relax客
 blind:百叶窗;窗帘
 sluggishly:
responding slowly 慢吞吞地;懒怠地
 spin: revolve quickly and repeatedly around one's own
axis 旋转;自旋
 mote: a tiny piece of anything尘埃;微粒
 tarnished: discolored 失去光泽的
 gilt: a coating of gold or of something that looks like gold
 easel: a stand or support used to hold a painting during its
creation and for display画架;黑板架
 crayon: traditionally, any drawing material, made in stick
form, including chalk, crayon, charcoal蜡笔;炭笔
 ebony: a tree noted for its heavy black, fine-grained
 pallid: pale;
abnormally deficient in color as suggesting
physical or emotional distress无血色的,苍白的
 hue: color颜色,色彩
 dough: a flour mixture stiff enough to knead or roll生面团;
 errand: a short trip that is taken in the performance of a
necessary task or mission差事,差使
 vanquish: beat: come out better in a competition, race, or
 horse and foot:全军
 temerity: reckless boldness; foolish bravery鲁莽;冒失
 diffident: timid or shy; lacking self-confidence缺乏自信的,
 deprecation: opposing; disapproval;
 slink: walk stealthily 潜行;潜逃;溜走
 sniff: breathe air into your nose nosily嗅,闻
 brickwork: buildings done with bricks and mortar砖建筑
 sling:吊,吊起;吊挂;悬挂
 sprinkle: scatter: distribute loosely洒,喷淋;撒
 lime: calcium hydroxide石灰
 torso: the body excluding the head and neck and limbs (人
 idol: a material sculpture that is worshipped偶像
 locust: =locust tree刺槐树
 tableau: a still image, a frozen moment or “a photograph”
 fling: move in an abrupt or headlong manner猛烈地开(或
 vindicate: justify: show to be right by providing
justification or proof 证明...正确;证实;辩明
 pauper: a person who is very poor穷人,贫民;乞丐
 condolence: an expression of sympathy with another's
grief (常复数)吊辞;吊唁;慰问
 serene: calm: not agitated; without losing self-possession
 foreman: a person who exercises control over workers工
 Yanker: an American who lives in the North (especially
during the American Civil War)美国人;美国佬
 ready: mentally disposed敏捷的,机灵的
 pick: a sharp pointed, usu. small instrument镐
 bay: a horse whose color is reddish-brown枣红马
 livery stable: 马厩
 kinsfolk: family: people descended from a common
 imperviousness: too certain in one’s opinion to be
 haughty: disdainfully proud骄傲
 strain:拉紧;拖紧;伸张
 eyesocket:眼窝
 erect: upright in position or posture直立的,垂直的
 Episcopal: of or relating to the affairs of a bishop in
various Christian churches (大写)主教派的
 blowing-off: 公开
 cabal: conspire: engage in plotting or enter into a
 circumvent: outwit: beat through cleverness and wit以智
 thwart: hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of
 virulent: deadly: extremely poisonous or injurious剧毒的;
 collection plate:捐献盘
 tedious: boring: so lacking in interest as to cause mental
 stoop: crouch: bend one's back forward from the waist on
 niche:壁龛
 perverse: marked by a disposition to oppose and
 doddering: mentally or physically infirm with age老态龙
 walnut: 胡桃木
 moldy: tasting of mold or rot发霉的
 sibilant: having, of or a sound resembling that of the s or
the sh in sash 【语】发丝音的
 muse: to think deeply 沉思,冥想;若有所思地说
 bier: a stand to support a corpse or a coffin prior to burial
 macabre: gruesome, suggesting horror恐怖的,可怕的
 pervade: permeate: spread or diffuse through弥漫于,渗透
 pall:棺罩;柩衣
 valance:床沿挂布;帷幔;挂布
 monogram: embroidered design composed of one or
more letters, usually the initials in a name(将姓名的首字
 obscure: not clearly understood or expressed模糊的;含糊
 crescent: any shape resembling the curved shape of the
moon in its first or last quarters新月状物
 grin: a facial expression characterized by turning up the
corners of the mouth龇牙咧嘴
 attitude: position: the arrangement of the body and its
 outlast: to live, last or remain longer than something else
 grimace: a contorted facial expression痛苦表情
 cuckold: cheat on: be sexually unfaithful to one's partner
in marriage与...的妻子通奸
 inextricable:解不开的
 biding: waiting long time长久的
Study Questions
 Does this story contain elements that you associate
with Gothic traditions in horror stories or mystery
stories? What makes it an example of Southern Gothic
Faulkner and the Southern Gothic
Southern Gothic is a literary tradition that came into its
own in the early twentieth century. It is rooted in the
Gothic style, which had been popular in European
literature for many centuries. Gothic writers concocted
wild, frightening scenarios in which mysterious secrets,
supernatural occurrences, and characters’ extreme
duress conspired to create a breathless reading
experience. Gothic style focused on the morbid and
grotesque, and the genre often featured certain set
pieces and characters: drafty castles laced with
cobwebs, secret passages, and frightened, wide-eyed
heroines whose innocence does not go untouched.
 Although they borrow the essential ingredients
of the Gothic, writers of Southern Gothic fiction
were not interested in integrating elements of
the sensational solely for the sake of creating
suspense or titillation. Writers such as Flannery
O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote,
Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, Erskine Caldwell, and
Carson McCullers were drawn to the elements
of Gothicism for what they revealed about
human psychology and the dark, underlying
motives that were pushed to the fringes of
 Southern Gothic writers were interested in
exploring the extreme, antisocial behaviors that
were often a reaction against a confining code
of social conduct. Southern Gothic often hinged
on the belief that daily life and the refined
surface of the social order were fragile and
illusory, disguising disturbing realities or
twisted psyches. Faulkner, with his dense and
multilayered prose, traditionally stands outside
this group of practitioners.
 However, “A Rose for Emily” reveals the influence
that Southern Gothic had on his writing: this
particular story has a moody and forbidding
atmosphere; a crumbling old mansion; and decay,
putrefaction, and grotesquerie. Faulkner’s work
uses the sensational elements to highlight an
individual’s struggle against an oppressive society
that is undergoing rapid change. Another aspect
of the Southern Gothic style is appropriation and
transformation. Faulkner has appropriated the
image of the damsel in distress and transformed it
into Emily, a psychologically damaged spinster.
Her mental instability and necrophilia have made
her an emblematic Southern Gothic heroine.
Questions continued
 When you first read the story, when did you
realize how it would end? What is your response
to the end?
 After you read the ending, did your view of
earlier scenes change, such as the parts about
buying poison and the odor? In retrospect, where
are there hints about the plot?
 What is the conflict in this story? If Miss Emily is the
protagonist, who is the antagonist (a character or force
that acts against the protagonist, denying his or her
 In the beginning, Miss Emily receives a deputation from
the Board of Aldermen. We already know her attitude
toward taxes before this. If this anecdote does not
advance the plot or offer a clue to the eventual story of
Emily and her lover, what function does it serve in the
 What people and values does the narrator
represent? Does your view of the narrator affect your
reception of the story?
 In paragraphs 1 and 2, the author speaks of buildings
and structures, describing Miss Emily as a fallen
monument. Where else do related images occur? If Miss
Emily is a fallen monument, what is she a monument
 Notice references to the Civil War in this story. Where
do they occur? How does that war play a role in the
 In this story, an aristocratic Southerner murders a
Yankee carpetbagger. Is the story about the triumph of a
defeated South over a supposedly triumphant
North? What is this story really about?
 See question 4. If you are tempted to think of Homer
Barron as antagonist, does it matter that the story
continues thirty years after his death? (Remember that
conflict in stories does not necessarily occur between
 In paragraph 1 of section II, what do horse and foot
mean? To what or to whom is Miss Emily being compared
 What is the significance of sidewalks?
 What do you think happened when the Baptist minister
called on Miss Emily? Is it important that you think you
understand what happened?
 Why are we not surprised when Homer
disappears? How does the storyteller ensure that we are
not surprised?
 After reading, reconstruct the sequence of events. When
did Homer Barron die? How did he die? Why is the story
structured in the way that it is?
 It has been said of this story that “Miss Emily has a
shadow, and by this shadow we tell the time of her life.”
What is her shadow?
 Why do we need to know about Miss Emily’s hair
changing color?
 Had Miss Emily really shut up the top floor of her
house? Why does the narrator say “evidently”?
 What purpose is served by telling us that the Negro
“walked right through the house and out the back and
was not seen again”?
 Toward the end is a lyrical and metaphorical account of
the old people’s sense of the past, a poetic kind of prose
with which a self-indulgent author will sometimes pad
out a story or tease us by delaying the resolution of our
suspense. What is Faulkner doing here? Playing a trick
on us? Does this image present an alternative or
parallel to anything else in the story?
 Why did they wait until after the funeral to open the
closed room? What word in the story informs you about
the reasons for this delay? Is the delay consistent with
the world of this story?
 Look closely at the second paragraph in section V. What
does this paragraph suggest about the nature of
people’s memories of the past?
 What is the horrible revelation about Miss Emily that
the story ends with? How is this related to the overall
meaning of the story?
Character List
 Emily Grierson
- The object of fascination in the
story. A eccentric recluse, Emily is a mysterious figure
who changes from a vibrant and hopeful young girl to
a cloistered and secretive old woman. Devastated and
alone after her father’s death, she is an object of pity
for the townspeople. After a life of having potential
suitors rejected by her father, she spends time after
his death with a newcomer, Homer Barron, although
the chances of his marrying her decrease as the years
pass. Bloated and pallid in her later years, her hair
turns steel gray. She ultimately poisons Homer and
seals his corpse into an upstairs room.
 Homer Barron
- A foreman from the North. Homer
is a large man with a dark complexion, a booming
voice, and light-colored eyes. A gruff and demanding
boss, he wins many admirers in Jefferson because of
his gregarious nature and good sense of humor. He
develops an interest in Emily and takes her for
Sunday drives in a yellow-wheeled buggy. Despite his
attributes, the townspeople view him as a poor, if not
scandalous, choice for a mate. He disappears in
Emily’s house and decomposes in an attic bedroom
after she kills him.
 Judge Stevens
- A mayor of Jefferson. Eighty years old,
Judge Stevens attempts to delicately handle the
complaints about the smell emanating from the
Grierson property. To be respectful of Emily’s pride
and former position in the community, he and the
aldermen decide to sprinkle lime on the property in
the middle of the night.
 Colonel Sartoris - A former mayor of Jefferson.
Colonel Sartoris absolves Emily of any tax burden after
the death of her father. His elaborate and benevolent
gesture is not heeded by the succeeding generation of
town leaders.
Mr. Grierson - Emily’s father. Mr. Grierson is a controlling,
looming presence even in death, and the community clearly
sees his lasting influence over Emily. He deliberately
thwarts Emily’s attempts to find a husband in order to keep
her under his control. We get glimpses of him in the story: in
the crayon portrait kept on the gilt-edged easel in the parlor,
and silhouetted in the doorway, horsewhip in hand, having
chased off another of Emily’s suitors.
Tobe - Emily’s servant. Tobe, his voice supposedly rusty
from lack of use, is the only lifeline that Emily has to the
outside world. For years, he dutifully cares for her and tends
to her needs. Eventually the townspeople stop grilling him
for information about Emily. After Emily’s death, he walks
out the back door and never returns.
Emily Grierson
Emily is the classic outsider, controlling and limiting the
town’s access to her true identity by remaining hidden. The
house that shields Emily from the world suggests the mind
of the woman who inhabits it: shuttered, dusty, and dark.
The object of the town’s intense scrutiny, Emily is a muted
and mysterious figure. On one level, she exhibits the
qualities of the stereotypical southern “eccentric”:
unbalanced, excessively tragic, and subject to bizarre
behavior. Emily enforces her own sense of law and conduct,
such as when she refuses to pay her taxes or state her
purpose for buying the poison. Emily also skirts the law
when she refuses to have numbers attached to her house
when federal mail service is instituted. Her dismissal of the
law eventually takes on more sinister consequences, as she
takes the life of the man whom she refuses to allow to
abandon her.
 The narrator portrays Emily as a monument, but at the
same time she is pitied and often irritating, demanding
to live life on her own terms. The subject of gossip and
speculation, the townspeople cluck their tongues at
the fact that she accepts Homer’s attentions with no
firm wedding plans. After she purchases the poison,
the townspeople conclude that she will kill herself.
Emily’s instabilities, however, lead her in a different
direction, and the final scene of the story suggests that
she is a necrophiliac.
Necrophilia typically means a sexual attraction to dead
bodies. In a broader sense, the term also describes a
powerful desire to control another, usually in the
context of a romantic or deeply personal relationship.
Necrophiliacs tend to be so controlling in their
relationships that they ultimately resort to bonding
with unresponsive entities with no resistance or will—
in other words, with dead bodies. Mr. Grierson
controlled Emily, and after his death, Emily temporarily
controls him by refusing to give up his dead body. She
ultimately transfers this control to Homer, the object of
her affection. Unable to find a traditional way to express
her desire to possess Homer, Emily takes his life to
achieve total power over him.
Homer Barron
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. Homer’s failure to properly
court and marry Emily prompts speculation and suspicion.
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. Homer says only that he is “not a
marrying man.”
 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. With his machinery,
Homer represents modernity and industrialization,
the force of progress that is upending traditional
values and provoking resistance and alarm among
traditionalists. Homer brings innovation to the
rapidly changing world of this Southern town, whose
new leaders are themselves pursuing more
“modern” ideas. The change that Homer brings to
Emily’s life, as her first real lover, is equally as
profound and seals his grim fate as the victim of her
plan to keep him permanently by her side.
Theme 1: Tradition versus Change
Through the mysterious figure of Emily Grierson, Faulkner
conveys the struggle that comes from trying to maintain
tradition in the face of widespread, radical change.
Jefferson is at a crossroads, embracing a modern, more
commercial future while still perched on the edge of the
past, from the faded glory of the Grierson home to the town
cemetery where anonymous Civil War soldiers have been
laid to rest. Emily herself is a tradition, steadfastly staying
the same over the years despite many changes in her
community. She is in many ways a mixed blessing. As a
living monument to the past, she represents the traditions
that people wish to respect and honor; however, she is also
a burden and entirely cut off from the outside world,
nursing eccentricities that others cannot understand.
Emily lives in a timeless vacuum and world of her own
making. Refusing to have metallic numbers affixed to the
side of her house when the town receives modern mail
service, she is out of touch with the reality that constantly
threatens to break through her carefully sealed perimeters.
Garages and cotton gins have replaced the grand
antebellum homes. The aldermen try to break with the
unofficial agreement about taxes once forged between
Colonel Sartoris and Emily. This new and younger
generation of leaders brings in Homer’s company to pave
the sidewalks. Although Jefferson still highly regards
traditional notions of honor and reputation, the narrator is
critical of the old men in their Confederate uniforms who
gather for Emily’s funeral. For them as for her, time is
relative. The past is not a faint glimmer but an everpresent, idealized realm. Emily’s macabre bridal chamber
is an extreme attempt to stop time and prevent change,
although doing so comes at the expense of human life.
Theme 2: The Power of Death
Death hangs over “A Rose for Emily,” from the narrator’s
mention of Emily’s death at the beginning of the story
through the description of Emily’s death-haunted life to
the foundering of tradition in the face of modern changes.
In every case, death prevails over every attempt to master
it. Emily, a fixture in the community, gives in to death
slowly. The narrator compares her to a drowned woman, a
bloated and pale figure left too long in the water. In the
same description, he refers to her small, spare skeleton—
she is practically dead on her feet. Emily stands as an
emblem of the Old South, a grand lady whose
respectability and charm rapidly decline through the
years, much like the outdated sensibilities the Griersons
represent. The death of the old social order will prevail,
despite many townspeople’s attempts to stay true to the
old ways.
Emily attempts to exert power over death by denying the
fact of death itself. Her bizarre relationship to the dead
bodies of the men she has loved—her necrophilia—is
revealed first when her father dies. Unable to admit that
he has died, Emily clings to the controlling paternal figure
whose denial and control became the only—yet
extreme—form of love she knew. She gives up his body
only reluctantly. When Homer dies, Emily refuses to
acknowledge it once again—although this time, she
herself was responsible for bringing about the death. In
killing Homer, she was able to keep him near her. However,
Homer’s lifelessness rendered him permanently distant.
Emily and Homer’s grotesque marriage reveals Emily’s
disturbing attempt to fuse life and death. However, death
ultimately triumphs.
Motif 1: Watching
 Emily is the subject of the intense, controlling gaze of
the narrator and residents of Jefferson. In lieu of an
actual connection to Emily, the townspeople create
subjective and often distorted interpretations of the
woman they know little about. They attend her
funeral under the guise of respect and honor, but they
really want to satisfy their lurid curiosity about the
town’s most notable eccentric. One of the ironic
dimensions of the story is that for all the gossip and
theorizing, no one guesses the perverse extent of
Emily’s true nature.
For most of the story, Emily is seen only from a distance,
by people who watch her through the windows or who
glimpse her in her doorway. The narrator refers to her as
an object—an “idol.” This pattern changes briefly during
her courtship with Homer Barron, when she leaves her
house and is frequently out in the world. However, others
spy on her just as avidly, and she is still relegated to the
role of object, a distant figure who takes on character
according to the whims of those who watch her. In this
sense, the act of watching is powerful because it replaces
an actual human presence with a made-up narrative that
changes depending on who is doing the watching. No one
knows the Emily that exists beyond what they can see,
and her true self is visible to them only after she dies and
her secrets are revealed.
Motif 2: Dust
A pall of dust hangs over the story, underscoring the decay and
decline that figure so prominently. The dust throughout Emily’s
house is a fitting accompaniment to the faded lives within. When
the aldermen arrive to try and secure Emily’s annual tax
payment, the house smells of “dust and disuse.” As they seat
themselves, the movement stirs dust all around them, and it
slowly rises, roiling about their thighs and catching the slim
beam of sunlight entering the room. The house is a place of stasis,
where regrets and memories have remained undisturbed. In a
way, the dust is a protective presence; the aldermen cannot
penetrate Emily’s murky relationship with reality. The layers of
dust also suggest the cloud of obscurity that hides Emily’s true
nature and the secrets her house contains. In the final scene, the
dust is an oppressive presence that seems to emanate from
Homer’s dead body. The dust, which is everywhere, seems even
more horrible here.
Symbol 1: Emily’s House
 Emily’s house, like Emily
herself, is a monument, the
only remaining emblem of a
dying world of Southern
aristocracy. The outside of
the large, square frame
house is lavishly decorated.
The cupolas, spires, and
scrolled balconies are the
hallmarks of a decadent style
of architecture that became
popular in the 1870s.
 By the time the story takes place, much has changed.
The street and neighborhood, at one time affluent,
pristine, and privileged, have lost their standing as
the realm of the elite. The house is in some ways an
extension of Emily: it bares its “stubborn and
coquettish decay” to the town’s residents. It is a
testament to the endurance and preservation of
tradition but now seems out of place among the
cotton wagons, gasoline pumps, and other
industrial trappings that surround it—just as the
South’s old values are out of place in a changing
Emily’s house also represents
alienation, mental illness, and
death. It is a shrine to the
living past, and the sealed
upstairs bedroom is her
macabre trophy room where
she preserves the man she
would not allow to leave her.
As when the group of men
sprinkled lime along the
foundation to counteract the
stench of rotting flesh, the
townspeople skulk along the
edges of Emily’s life and
 The house, like its owner, is an
object of fascination for them. They
project their own lurid fantasies
and interpretations onto the
crumbling edifice and mysterious
figure inside. Emily’s death is a
chance for them to gain access to
this forbidden realm and confirm
their wildest notions and most
sensationalistic suppositions about
what had occurred on the inside.
Symbol 2: The Strand of Hair
The strand of hair is a reminder of love lost and the often
perverse things people do in their pursuit of happiness.
The strand of hair also reveals the inner life of a woman
who, despite her eccentricities, was committed to living
life on her own terms and not submitting her behavior, no
matter how shocking, to the approval of others. Emily
subscribes to her own moral code and occupies a world of
her own invention, where even murder is permissible. The
narrator foreshadows the discovery of the long strand of
hair on the pillow when he describes the physical
transformation that Emily undergoes as she ages. Her hair
grows more and more grizzled until it becomes a
“vigorous iron-gray.” The strand of hair ultimately stands
as the last vestige of a life left to languish and decay, much
like the body of Emily’s former lover.
Narrative Sequence
 The difficulty of reading this story lies in the unusual
narrative sequence (non-chronological) and point of
view (“We”). This non-chronological sequence
confuses the reader’s awareness of time and causality.
The narrator’s scope of perception is limited.
 These two traits make the story read like a detective
story. To know what happen, you may have to make a
chronology of the events. The chronology will help you
to perceive the causality obscured by the narrator.
Here is a chronology of the events in “A Rose for Emily.”
e order
What happened
When Emily was 30, Emily’s
father died (II. Par. 26).
Emily refused to accept her
Emily was
father’s death. When the town
people forced to bury her
father, she broke down. (II. Par.
s age)
What happened
--Emily was sick for a long time.
--In the summer after the
Emily’s father, the town had a
contract for paving the
Para. 1-3 --Emily acquainted with a day
worker, Homer Barron.
--The town ladies started to
gossip about the love affair.
“Poor Emily.”
s age)
What happened
--Emily bought rat poison.
Para. 6-15
Para. 1
The next day after Emily bought
the arsenic, the town people
thought Emily would kill herself.
What happened
Disturbances of the love affair:
--Town people (especially the ladies)
disagreed and gossiped. “She will
persuade him yet”, because Homer
Barron had remarked—he liked men
--Some town ladies interfered, and for
Para. 1
the Baptist minister to called upon her.
--The next Sunday, they (Emily and
Homer) again drove about the street.
The following day, the minister’s wife
wrote to Emily’s relations in Alabama.
s age)
Para. 3
What happened
Emily went to the jeweler’s and
order a man’s toilet set in silver,
with the letter H.B. on each piece.
She also bought a complete outfit
of men’s clothing, including a
nightshirt. The town people
believed that “They are married.”
s age)
What happened
--The town people were surprised
that Homer Barron had gone.
--Within three days Homer Barron
was back in town. A neighbor saw
the Negro man admit him at the
Para. 4-5
kitchen door at dusk one evening”
-- And that was the last we saw of
Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily
for some time.
s age)
What happened
Two years after the death of
Emily’s father: Emily was 32
--Emily’s sweetheart “the one we
believed would marry her had
deserted her.”
Para. 2-11 --The smell developed. After
Emily’s neighbor’s complaint,
Judge Stevens (80 years old)
investigated the source of the
smell without result.
nt (Emily's
In 1894
Para. 7
Para. 2
What happened
--When Emily was about 40, she
started to give china painting
lessons to the ladies (daughters and
granddaughters of Colonel
Sartoris’s contemporaries). This
lasted for about six or seven years.
Meanwhile her taxes had been
--In 1894, Colonel Sartoris remitted
the taxes of Miss Emily Grierson.
s age)
What happened
Colonel Sartoris died—Emily
Para.14 was 52.
Para. 5
Emily was about 52~54. Emily
stopped given china painting
lesson to the town ladies—Since
that time, nobody visited the
Grierson house..
s age)
Para. 8
What happened
The second generation became
the backbone of the town. They
stopped sent girls to Miss Emily’s
painting class. “When the town
got free postal delivery Miss
Emily alone refused to let them
fasten the metal numbers above
her door and attach a mailbox to
it. She would not listen to them.”
(IV. 50)
s age)
What happened
32 (30 +2) years after the death of
Emily’s father, and 10 years after
the death of Colonel Sartoris:
Emily was 62 (“a small, fat
woman in black, . . . . She looked
bloated, like a body long
Para. 4-14
submerged in motionless water,
and of that pallid hue.”)
--The town aldermen asked Emily
Grierson to pay taxes, but she
s age)
What happened
--Emily died at the age of 74.
--“She died in one of the
downstairs rooms, in a heavy
walnut bed with a curtain, her
Para. 10, 12
gray head propped on a pillow
yellow and moldly with age and
lack of sunlight.”
--The town people went to Miss
Para. 1-2 Emily Grierson’s funeral.
s age)
Para. 2
What happened
--Miss Emily was put “beneath a
mass of bought flowers, with the
crayon face of her father musing
profoundly above the bier. . . .”
--Two female cousins came to
the funeral. (Only two)
s age)
What happened
--After the funeral, the town
people intruded into Emily’s
bedroom, which no one had seen
in forty years.
--Emily’s room was furnished as
for a bridal, with the curtain of
Para. 3-4
rose color. (Rose was mentioned
only in this paragraph!) And they
found a man’s body lay in the
bed, with a long strand of irongray hair.
Thank You for Attending
and Listening to the Class!

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