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Retrospective Narration in A Rose for Emily

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Retrospective Narration in A Rose for Emily

“Now and then we would see her in one of the downstairs windows—she had evidently shut up the top floor of the house—like the carven torso of an idol in a niche, looking or not looking at us, we could never tell which. Thus she passed from generation to generation—dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.” (128)

Because “A Rose for Emily” is narrated in retrospect, this description of Miss Emily’s relationship with the town possesses a kind of foreshadowing not always present in stories narrated as the action unfolds. Each word takes on added meaning given that the narrator already know about Homer Barron and the room upstairs.

Thinking back, the narrator recalls, “Now and then we would see her in one of the downstairs windows.” Likely, it only occurred to the narrator after learning about Homer Barron that Miss Emily was always in a downstairs window. In fact, earlier in the story, the narrator only says that “a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it” when the men of the won sprinkled lime ar...

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