William Falkner's a Rose for Emily

The protagonist, Emily, is described as a “a small, fat woman in black…Her skeleton small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her - William Falkner's a Rose for Emily introduction. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another. ” (85) The story is told from a first person plural, “we,” being the townspeople.

Because here character is based on town gossip, of her both physically and personality she is not a round, dynamic person. She is a flat and static character, her character never changes, she continues to be a spoken of from a distance from the community. She is more of a “tradition” (84), or a small town legend, than an actual human being. The story opens with the whole town attending her funeral out of curiosity. Emily lived alone many years accept for one manservant and did not associate with anyone else except on rare occasions, her distant relatives.

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Eventually, she meets Homer Barron, a “Yankee” (87) in town for business. Their relationship was frowned upon by the women of the town because of social status—for Homer Barron was a day laborer. Homer never marries Emily, it is speculated that she poisons him so he does not leave her. The townspeople discover Homer’s body in Emily’s home. This leads the reader to draw his own conclusions of how Homer died. Emily’s true feelings are never known since she is described by the townspeople. Her character is based on rumor and gossip by the townspeople.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford /St. Martin’s, 2012. 84-90. Print.

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