A rose for Emily is a story about Emily, a woman who is said to have some form of insanity. Emily is very close to her father, and people say that she has not gotten over her father’s death. In fact, she takes a very long time to accept that her father is dead. This lady does not have a very healthy social life; she does not interact well with other people in the neighborhood, and the people believe that she is not likely to get married. This is because the town’s people think that Emily is a sophisticated lady whose class does not fit the people of the town. William Falkner uses this story to advance the theme of a person who resigns to madness, and the town’s people cannot help since they feel that the lady needs to be left alone (Clay 07).
Setting of the Story
Most of the story takes part in Emily’s town, and the relationship that Emily’s family has with the town’s folk is explained. The people of this town are close to each other, and they seek to help each other in times of need. Therefore, when Emily’s father dies, the town’s people are there to offer comfort; they understand that Emily faces a lot of challenges, and they want to comfort her. The relationship between Emily’s family and the administration of this town is explained. First, Emily’s father led the community some money, and he is exempted from paying tax. Therefore, even after he is dead, Emily maintains a belief that she is not to pay tax. When a new administration takes over, Emily tells them to go and ask a certain official about Emily’s tax; apparently, the said official has been dead for long, and the authorities have to stop asking about Emily’s tax. In a nut shell, this is a community where every person knows every other person’s affairs; in fact, the town’s people know that Emily is dating homer. They also know that Emily’s family regarded itself very high, and Emily is not married (at thirty) because a suitable mate could not be found.
William Faulkner has selected his characters such that the conflicts that exist in the society are revealed. First, Falkner constructs the character of Emily as the main character. The story begins with Emily’s funeral, and the reader wants to know what caused Emily’s death. However, William does not go directly to tell the readers about the cause of Emily’s death; rather, the author wants to give the whole story of Emily’s life, and he does exactly that. Emily transforms from a girl who is hopeful and vibrant to a secretive and cloistered aged woman. Emily is very close to her father; she has no otherwise since she is still single at thirty. Apparently, Emily’s father has driven off scores of prospective suitors; he believes that these suitors do not deserve Emily. Therefore, Emily feels very lonely after her father’s death.
After some time, Emily Grierson meets Homer, and the two are said to be setting up a wedding. However, this does not come to happen, and the town’s people cannot understand this. The chances of this marriage continue to diminish over time, and Emily transforms to a very unattractive woman. Her hair turns steel gray, and she, eventually, poisons Homer and locks the corpse in a secret upstairs room.
Homer Baron is a huge man with a very dark complexion. He works as a foreman, and he has a commanding tone that earns him fear and respect among workers. He also has some good sense of humor, and he falls in love with Emily. He takes Emily for some rides in the Sunday afternoons (Polk and William 90). In fact, the town’s people say that he is going to marry Emily. However, the town people still feel that Mr. Baron does not qualify to be Emily’s husband. This is because people are accustomed to the ideas that Emily’s family needs a person of a certain class to marry from the family. Eventually, Homer Baron is poisoned (by Emily), and Emily conceals his body in a closed room.
This story is written from the omniscient point of view; the writer distances himself from the events in the play, and this gives the reader some distance to observe the happenings in the story. Therefore, the reader does not, emotionally, identify with the characters in the story. In fact, the reader feels some detachment with these events, and he can employ proper judgment about this story.
The author also employs a lot of flashbacks in the story. The events in the story do not follow each other chronologically, and the author presents them in a series of flashbacks. In these flashbacks, the reader is taken to examine the lives of the characters in order to understand their current lives (Dickinson, Frances and Chi 75). For instance, the story begins at Emily’s funeral. Emily is the main character in the story, and her burial makes people want to know the cause of death. Therefore, people continue reading the story so as to discover the cause of Emily’s death. Suspense is also a style in this story. The writer arranged the event such that the reader begins with things in the present to understand things of the past. Suspense creates the mood for the continuation of the work; the author gives synapses of people’s lives, and the reader wants to read and discover much more.
The most prevalent theme in A Rose for Emily is the power of death. In fact, the story begins with death and ends with death. The story begins with Emily’s funeral. Then the writer continues to give details of Emily’s father’s death. This makes the reader feel the misfortune that faces Emily. She is left with no close relative, and she starts to withdraw into herself; the death of Emily’s father symbolizes the death of Emily’s conscience. Thus, the reader can understand the reason that made Emily kill Homer Baron; Emily’s conscience is dead. Emily also tries to evade the reality by saying that the father is not dead. This advances the theme of death in that the reader can understand that death is never welcome to any person; it just comes to cause people pain.
Tradition versus change also appears in this story. Emily does not want to change with the new system; she refuses to pay tax because her father has been exempted from paying tax. The father has been dead for a long time, and Emily refuses to acknowledge this fact. The administration is also a bit conservative in that it refuses to make Emily pay tax. In fact, the authorities do not want to disturb Emily. The mayor just sends some people to sprinkle some chemicals when a smell starts leaking from Emily’s house (Faulkner and Inge 41).
There are many things that can be used to analyze this story. However, the best methods include style, themes and characterization (Rose 47). William Faulkner gives the story of a person who succumbs to madness and then death; William seems to advocate for a society that will recognize people with needs that can be rectified before they lead to some harmful behavior.