A Rose for Emily Essay Story Analysis

Topics: William Faulkner, Short story, Joyce Carol Oates Pages: 11 (3673 words) Published: July 28, 2012
Alesha N. Duff June 13, 2012
Class: English 1302 Hours: 2:45-4:45 Section: TM033 Days: M-W

Critical Thinking Assignment “A Rose for Emily”

1. “And now miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.”

Upon doing some reading and research on William Faulkner, small details have begun to emerge about his upbringing and his deep ties to the south. William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” was first published in an issue of Forum magazine and it was first shared with the public on April 30th, 1930. The narrator is never named although the storyteller highlights the oddities of Emily Grierson. In my opinion I see Emily as a dried up old spinster that is stuck in her ways and unwilling to change with the times. The story tells us much about Jefferson, yet it also leaves a lot of the work up to the reader. The story tells us a lot about Emily’s life, her painful relationship with her dad, her odd lover, the small town of Jefferson, and some awfully personal details about several secrets Emily is keeping, and in many ways the town is keeping.

Many of Faulkner’s stories take place in the south, as William Faulkner was born in Mississippi in the city of New Albany. When William was five years old his family relocated to the town Oxford, Mississippi. William Faulkner spent a lot of his time as a child fishing and hunting in Lafayette County. William Faulkner was named after his great grandfather who was a colonial. The character named Colonel Sartoris was based on his grandfather, and the colonial character plays a pertinent role in another of his novels named Flags in the Dust. Another interesting fact about Mr. Faulkner is that his family was quite wealthy back in the day, due to being former plantation owners.

William Faulkner had a cousin by the name of Mary Louise Neilson and the main character in this story we are discussing “Emily” is based in part by her. An interesting fact is that Mary Louise Neilson was married to a Yankee street paver with the name of Jack Barron. One last detail I would like to share is that William Faulkner passed away on the same day of his great-grandfather’s birthday 137 years before, on the 6th of July 1962.

I think that the use of the words “the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson” is a pretty good indicator that William Faulkner was writing about the south and that the use of the two sides of forces that fought in the war will naturally lead a reader to understand that the south is where the short story takes place. The part of the sentence that speaks to me is the part about Miss Emily joining the representatives of those august names, meaning that she was considered to be important in her own right, and now lay amongst other important people that had died in and for Jefferson. Regardless of the soldiers being in marked or unmarked graves there was an unspoken respect for the buried.

2. I think that William Faulkner does a very good job of leading the reader with his rich details, yet not giving the ending away. The element of mystery in this story starts with the narrator, although they are never named, they lead us through every gory detail of this gripping story. I am lead to believe that whoever this narrator is, they have known Emily for her entire life. I am lead to believe that the narrator may be the actual town itself. The details of Emily’s strange life include intimate details about her relationship with the town, the town’s people, her father, her first and only lover, and all of the terrible secrets she has succeeded in hiding, or so one is to believe.

I think that the plot builds as the details expand about the relationships Emily had with her family, the members of...
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