William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”:
The Importance of Order
William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is the life story of Miss Emily Grierson. A woman whose life is fraught with tragedy and grief. Strategically told out of order, Miss Emily’s life draws us in, beginning with the end of her life and the opening of her house to the curious townspeople. The “scrambled” telling of this story serves several purposes in enhancing the story’s interest and depth.
When we first hear of Miss Emily , it is the time of her death and funeral, attended by the whole town of curious men and women. Their attitude and reverence towards Emily sparks our interest, a sort of “ respectful affection for a fallen monument” (30). We begin to ask why was she such an important woman and what has caused such an intrigue in her fellow townspeople. The inquisitiveness of the town becomes our own , and we want to know the whole, complete story of Emily’s life. Beginning the story of Emily’s life with her death gives us an opportunity to wonder what made her such an iconic part of this town and the lives of her neighbors there.
Another aspect of this story’s order is the creation of suspense caused by the flashbacks and foreshadowing. Occurrences such as the appearance of the awful smell emanating from her house, and the later mentioning of Homer Barron’s disappearance compose a question in our minds of what exactly happened? What makes this occurrence all the more interesting is that we are told of it after the smell’s appearance, and we are unsure if its significance is great or a minor. We can only infer as to its consequence in the story’s chain of events. In addition to these happenings we also see Miss Emily making a purchase of arsenic, a deadly poison. We see her simply ignore the druggist’s questions as to what it may be for. She states, “ I want arsenic” and “ I want the best you have. I don’t care what kind” (33) . Her bluntness and...