“A Rose for Emily: Summary and Analysis
A Rose for Emily is a story narrated in five sections. The first section describes Emily Grierson death, and town attendance of her funeral at Emily home unvisited by strangers for over ten years. Second section takes the audience thirty years back in time when Emily resists town leaders’ another official inquiry as they attempt to detect the source of a strange smell emanating from Emily house. The third section is about a long illness Emily is caught in after her father death, and her growing relationship with Homer, a man far below her status. The fourth section discusses the town speculation that the poison Emily will commit suicide with the poison she has bought, the growing suspicion about her marriage to Homer, and Emily and Homer disappearance into her home for a long time. The fifth section offers a description of the town people exploration of her home after Emily death, and their discovery of the rotten and decomposed dead-body of Homer.
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In A Rose for Emily, feminist criticism reflects in society undermining of the reason of assassination of Homer by Miss Emily because of the upheld patriarchal values. As a result of that, Miss Emily encounters inevitable change against her will and thus ends up being a prisoner.
The first sentence of A Rose for Emily is a lengthy sentence containing fifty six words that not only encapsulates the reaction of the community to the death but also uses gender differences to display an immediate compulsion of authority for the scene description. William Faulkner locates the plot in a line-up of women and men conjoined in the motivation of being present at the funeral of Miss Emily, but with different motivations. “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant — a combined gardener and cook — had seen in at least ten years” (Faulkner 119). The split of gender motivation between respect and curiosity is apparent from this sentence. Other noticeable elements are affection for the purpose of representation, and the desire to view the house from inside. Faulkner presents Emily as the subordinate object using the stylistics of language. This, in effect, not only makes the ostensible subject of the tale but also serves to elevate the town as a whole as the truer subject. By disengendering the pronoun of narrator, Faulkner offers implicit critique regarding the intrinsic nature of fiction (Belsey 7).
Faulkner tends to subvert his own discourse by admitting to lack of knowledge about Emily and by giving her the leverage of acting beyond the story language. Faulkner draws the audience attention to gender construct as a posture which penetrates literature, gives weight to the language, and defines non-negotiable layers to the story-telling ability. “As individuals we are not the mere objects of language but the sites of discursive struggle, a struggle which takes place in the consciousness of the individual” (Weedon 106). Emily is neither an idle nor an idol, and Faulkner appears as a disempowered authorial entity striving for a language to describe her anything like a lady to the discourse of literature.
1. Social Change, ed. Judith Newton and Deborah Rosenfelt. New York: Methuen, 1985. Print.
2. Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily, Collected Stories. New York: Vintage, 1977. Print.
3. Weedon, Chris. Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1987. Print. “