A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner is a short story recounted in the first person by an unnamed narrator from a town in the south. Incidents in the story are described thematically and not chronologically, hence there is no sequential order of events.
Its allegorical title has been interpreted by many as a symbolism of secrecy since the narrator does not give away Miss Emily’s secrets. It has also been understood to symbolize Homer, the man she was to marry. Just like a dried rose petal can be well kept in a book for a long time, Miss Emily lived and cared for his corpse like it meant everything to her.
In a critical analysis essay on A Rose for Emily, whether argumentative or narrative, you will need to write about topics from the story that can be discussed exhaustively. Below is an outline that you should follow if you want to express your ideas correctly:
- Have a topic.
You can choose to focus on a theme, style or give the plot analysis of A Rose for Emily. Ensure that it is catchy and has enough points to support it.
- The thesis statement
It is the main objective of your essay. You have to state it in the introduction and conclusion of your composition.
It consists of points building up your story. Normally a 2-3 paragraph body works just fine since this is a short tale.
You will summarize your literary work in the conclusion, restating the main points and giving the final verdict of your argument.
A Rose for Emily begins with her funeral where the narrator starts to recount her life story. She was the daughter of Mr. Grierson, a wealthy man in the south. Her father loved her so much, and he brought her up by his side, not letting her have a normal social life. She secluded from the rest of the town all her life.
He would not let her get married, and this shaped her into the reclusive person she became all her life and more so in its last days. At the age of 30, Mr. Grierson dies, and Miss Emily is left to grieve for days. She even refused to let go of his body, and the town let her grieve because he was her closest family member.
After his demise, Tobe, Miss Emily’s black butler tends to her needs. Ironically, he and the man she was to marry were the only people she associated with closely, yet all her life her father kept her from men. Homer was a laborer from the north who has visited the south. She took a romantic interest in him after the accepting the death of Mr. Grierson and wanted to marry him, but he was not a marrying man.
Emily is spotted purchasing poison at a local shop, and whispers spread that she may kill herself. Her distant cousins come and live with and care for her, and Homer leaves Emily’s home shortly after for some days. He comes back one evening after the cousins have gone, and is never seen again.
After some days, there is a smell that comes from Miss Emily’s house, but Colonel Sartoris, the mayor of Jefferson town, orders some me to sprinkle lime around her house. The smell disappears. He also exempted her from paying taxes because of the gentleman’s agreement he had with her father. Mr. Grierson had loaned the town money, and this was his way of paying back.
As age catches up with Miss Emily, new governance rules this town, but she still won’t pay her taxes. She argues that there was an agreement to this, and she is pardoned. She is then observed to keep to herself much and rarely leaves the house. Only Tobe was allowed in readily.
The townspeople considered her as a hereditary obligation, and they tolerated her. She had a sad life. Her funeral was attended by many, including Tobe, who did not show much emotion. After she was buried, some townsmen went to her house and found Homer’s belongings still intact. His corpse lay on the bed, decomposed. They also found a pillow and strands of hair next to him; he was a rose for Emily.
Themes in A Rose for Emily
- William Faulkner begins the narration at the funeral of Miss Emily. It is the main foundation of this book, and everything else is built in relation to her death.
- Grierson dies, and this leaves Emily in denial. She weeps for a long time. His demise is the beginning of changes in her life.
- Homer dies, and this brings some satisfaction to Emily since she can have him all to herself.
Resistance to Change
- When Mr. Grierson dies, Miss Emily refuses to let go of his corpse because she cannot come to terms with his demise. It this case, she resists change.
- Emily accepts this death and changes her hairstyle to look lively. She meets a man and wants to get married.
- When she realizes that she wants him for herself, she kills him so that he would never leave her bedside. She dreaded change.
- When the new mayor asks her to pay her taxes, she declines and says they should stick to the old agreement.
- Miss Emily’s home was not open to all. Only Tobe and Homer frequented the place, and it looked suspicious.
- After her burial, the locked door in her house was opened, and her secret was out. Locked doors symbolize her secretiveness.
- The lady preferred living in isolation and secluded from the rest of the town.
- Parents sent their children to Miss Emily’s house for china painting lessons, and this brought joy to her. The community did this to help her accept Mr. Grierson’s death
- When a strong smell was detected from her house, civic had lime sprinkled around her house
- She refused to pay taxes, and they let her be.
A Rose for Emily brought out the main character as a person with a disturbed social life who made choices that would be deemed weird to a normal person’s eye. However, she was kind to the children in town and respected Tobe. It is such a sad thing that she only loved once and loved to death.