Presentation on theme: "A Rose for Emily By William Faulkner. Introduction of Story First published in April of 1930 Became a Film in 1982 Film only last 27 minutes Explores."— Presentation transcript:
A Rose for Emily 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 Faulkner Born September of 1897 Nobel Prize (1949) and Pulitzer Prize (1955 & 1962) winning novelist From Mississippi His works are known to be very challenging and difficult
Author Continued Known as one of America’s most important fiction writers Work is known for multiple narrations and time shifts within narrative
Context about W. Faulkerner William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, in 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 time
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 events
Significance To 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 的, 呈方形的 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 松愉快的 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 ; 令人敬畏的 ; 尊严的 coquettish: like a coquette; alluring; enticing 妖艳的 ; 卖弄 风情的 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 ), 免除 ( 处罚 )
dispensation: an exemption from some rule or obligation ( 义务等的 ) 免除 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 ; 古色古香的 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 厅 ; 起居室 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 镀金的 ; 金色的 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 heartwood 黑檀木
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 ; 似生面团的东西 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 conflict 征服, 击败 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, 懦怯的 ; 羞怯的
deprecation: opposing; disapproval; 反对 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 体 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 体的 ) 躯干 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” 动人的场面 ; 戏剧性的场面 fling: move in an abrupt or headlong manner 猛烈地开 ( 或 关 )( 门, 窗 ) 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 安详的 ; 稳重的 foreman: a person who exercises control over workers 工 头, 领班
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 ancestor( 总称 ) 家属, 亲属 imperviousness: too certain in one’s opinion to be changed 不为所动 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 conspiracy 阴谋集团 circumvent: outwit: beat through cleverness and wit 以智 取胜 thwart: hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of 反对, 阻挠 ; 使受挫折 ; 挫败 virulent: deadly: extremely poisonous or injurious 剧毒的 ; 致命的 collection plate: 捐献盘
tedious: boring: so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness 冗长乏味的 ; 使人厌烦的 stoop: crouch: bend one's back forward from the waist on down 弯腰, 屈身 ; 驼背 niche: 壁龛 perverse: marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict 刚愎的 doddering: mentally or physically infirm with age 老态龙 钟的 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 棺架 ; 尸架 macabre: gruesome, suggesting horror 恐怖的，可怕的 pervade: permeate: spread or diffuse through 弥漫于, 渗透 于 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 母组成的 ) 组合图案, 花押字 obscure: not clearly understood or expressed 模糊的 ; 含糊 不清的
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 limbs 姿势 outlast: to live, last or remain longer than something else 比... 命长 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 fiction?
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 society.
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 desires)? 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 story? 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 to? Notice references to the Civil War in this story. Where do they occur? How does that war play a role in the story? 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 individuals.) In paragraph 1 of section II, what do horse and foot mean? To what or to whom is Miss Emily being compared here? 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 ever- present, 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 society.
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 property.
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.”
Event Order Time (Emily's age) Narrativ e order What happened 1 Emily was 30 II. Para When Emily was 30, Emily’s father died (II. Par. 26). Emily refused to accept her father’s death. When the town people forced to bury her father, she broke down. (II. Par. 27)
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 2 III. Para Emily was sick for a long time. --In the summer after the Emily’s father, the town had a contract for paving the sidewalks. --Emily acquainted with a day worker, Homer Barron. --The town ladies started to gossip about the love affair. “Poor Emily.”
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 3(32) III. Para Emily bought rat poison. 4(32) IV. Para. 1 The next day after Emily bought the arsenic, the town people thought Emily would kill herself.
Event Order TimeNarr. order What happened 5(32) IV. Para. 1 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 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.
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 6(32) IV. Para. 3 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.”
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 732 IV. Para 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 kitchen door at dusk one evening” -- And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time.
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 832 II. Para 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.” --The smell developed. After Emily’s neighbor’s complaint, Judge Stevens (80 years old) investigated the source of the smell without result.
Eve nt Ord er Time (Emily's age) Narrative order What happened 9 40, In 1894 IV. Para. 7 I. Para. 2 --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 remitted. --In 1894, Colonel Sartoris remitted the taxes of Miss Emily Grierson.
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 1052 I. Para.14 Colonel Sartoris died—Emily was ~54 I. 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..
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 1252~54 IV. Para. 8 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)
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 1362 I. Para (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 submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue.”) --The town aldermen asked Emily Grierson to pay taxes, but she refused.
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 1474 IV. Para. 10, 12 --Emily died at the age of “She died in one of the downstairs rooms, in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldly with age and lack of sunlight.” 1574 I. Para The town people went to Miss Emily Grierson’s funeral.
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 1674 V. Para. 2 --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)
Event Order Time (Emily' s age) Narrative order What happened 1774 V. Para 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 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 iron- gray hair.
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