Free Essays on William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily - Homicide


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A Homicide for Emily


 “A Rose for Emily” is a short intriguing story written by William Faulkner.  This is because the way Emily’s character is portrayed, the mysterious death of Homer Barron, and the way Faulkner uses the narrator to tell the story.

 Emily is portrayed as a woman who kept to herself throughout her whole life.  In her younger years her father had driven all her suitors away.  No man was good enough for Emily.  Emily’s solitude was especially evident after her father died and when her boyfriend Homer disappeared.  Her hair had turned an irony gray after her father died.  She had a black manservant throughout her whole life that went to the market, cooked and gardened for her.  During the end of her life the manservant’s visits were the only way that the townspeople knew that she was still alive.  After her father died Emily kept his body in her house.  A few days after Emily’s father’s death a couple of ladies came to give their condolences.  But Emily came to the door dressed in casual clothes and showed no signs of grief.  The townspeople were about to resort to law enforcement when she finally broke down and told them that her father was dead.  The townspeople did not believe she was crazy, even though they knew insanity ran in her family.  They thought Emily did this because they remembered how the father drove all the young men away.  Now she was a figure that could be pitied by the town, alone and penniless.

 Eventually Emily met Homer, a Yankee who came into town to pave sidewalks during the summer of Emily’s father’s death.  They started seeing each other but Homer would rather hang out with the guys than hang out with Emily.  He was not the marrying type.  When Emily figured this out she bought some arsenic from a druggist.  The townspeople thought she was going to use the arsenic to kill herself.  However the next week they were sure homer and Emily would get married because Emily had been seen at the jeweler’s ordering a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letters H.B. on each piece.   Two days later she was seen buying a complete outfit of men’s clothing, including a nightshirt.  Homer was not seen for a week or so but he eventually came back into town and a neighbor saw the manservant let him in at the kitchen door.

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  That was the last time anyone would ever see Homer until forty years later.  After Emily’s death the townspeople broke down a door to a room in Emily’s house and there lay Homer’s skeleton in a double bed.  In the room was the man’s toilet set, a collar and a tie.  Upon a chair were carefully folded suit and a pair of shoes and socks.  Along side Homer’s decayed body they found a pillow with an indentation of a head.  On the pillow was a long strand of iron-gray hair.  From this piece of evidence, it suggests that Emily pois0ned Homer and slept next to him every night for forty years after his death.

 In “A Rose for Emily” the narrator uses the pronoun “we” throughout the story.  Right from the very first sentence the narrator says, “our whole town went to her funeral.”  This statement suggests that the whole town loved Emily.  But in actuallity I believe the town didn’t love her at all.  Faulkner used a third person narrative to describe Emily’s life.  The narrator is unnamed and has no active role in the story.  His use of an anonymous narrator is a subtle way a showing how the townspeople truly regarded her.  It is a story told in a cold and distant time.

 Although it almost seems obvious that Emily killed Homer, the one piece of evidence that Faulkner doesn’t provide is how Emily got in and out of the room above the stairs where Homer lied as his body rotted away.  The only reason that this comes up is that the townspeople had to break down the door when they went to explore the room.  This suggests that Emily may have had a secret entrance to that specific room.

 Emily’s room above the stairs was a sanctuary for her.  In that room, Emily shut out the world.  In it the living Emily and her dead boyfriend remained together forever.  Even death could not separate them.  However, in the end death wins out.  After her own death Emily’s secret would be shattered.  Her rose colored world is invaded by the curious inhabitants of the real world.
 


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