A Rose for Emily

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William Faulkner( 1896-1962) were a famous short stories writer. He was the greatest American writer of the first half of the twentieth century. Faulkner wrote forty-two stories in the Collected Stories which came out in 1950; in 1979 appeared a further volume, Uncollected Stories which contain several early versions of stories (twelve). The writer was raised in Mississippi, he was influenced by the history and culture of the South. His work has theme of evil, bearing Southern Gothic tone.

A Rose for Emily was published in the April 30, 1930, in the collection of short story fiction These 13 (1932). The title is symbolical, in literature "rose" has many meanings, can represent love, purity, beauty, kindness etc. Here "rose" has a metaphorical meaning, it can be related to the ceremony of death (funeral).

Faulkner used two literary device: flashback and foreshadowing. He presented action which occurs before the beginning of the story. The story begin with description of Emily's funeral. Through the story narrator flashes back to present the different events which happened in the town and the life of Emily Grierson( her odd relationship with her father, with her lover, and her overwhelming secret). The events took place in Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, consequently Faulkner presented his view of decaying Southern aristocrats. He was able to develop a Southern life and to present his characters as symbols of the life around him.

The critics considered that this short story is about a strange love story, is about obsession, death. This story is perceived like a gothic masterpiece. Faulkner presents the grotesque love between Emily and Homer Barron "a Yankee- a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face"(p. 133). It is presented the relation between the South and North people. Emily met Homer Baron, a foreman with a construction company, when her hometown was first getting paved streets. Her father died. In the town circulated the gossip that Emily had a marriage with a Yankee (Homer Baron). When he had left the town, Emily bought rat poison, this could be a gothic element. When the Yankee returned to the house of Emily's, the townspeople will discover his corpse on a bed in her house and, next to it, find a single "long strand of iron-gray hair."During the time more important events took place, values changed for example The older magistrates looked on Emily paternally, they refused to take taxes from her, the new magister try to take taxes, but he could not. Emily was feeling lonely, she gave lessons of painting china but could not find pupils. She realized that Homer would leave her, so she wanted to achieve her desire to be married with this "dark man", but in a morbid manner, to poison him, consequently she live years with his corpse. At the end the townspeople found the two persons death in the house.

In this story, Faulkner applied several themes for example : Emily's fear of death, we can find references to death,( she could not accept her father's death) ; she could not integrate in society, because she had a different perspective, Emily's tragic figure, destiny. Critics, like, Norman Bates, considered that Emily was mentally deranged she needed affection.

With this story we can understand the small town life in South, which was presented between past time and present time, so the action reflects a moral or ethical state.


Scofield, Martin: The Cambridge Introduction to American Short Story, Cambridge: University Press, 2006

Alexandrescu, Sorin: William Faulkner, Bucuresti: Ed. Pentru Literatura, 1969


Interpretarea nuvelei "A rose for Emily" de William Faulkner

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