“A Rose for Emily”, by William Faulkner was an engaging, yet intricate short story that was written in the 1930s’. Tone is described as the way the author feels about the subject of the text. Throughout the story, William Faulkner used tone and many other literary devices to portray his writing style. The main theme of “A Rose for Emily”, is one of complete quarantine. The story takes place in Faulkner’s made up town of Jefferson, Mississippi. The town is in complete decomposition, which includes her house and herself.
The town also reflects the life of Emily and the difference in social class. The story is told as an unnamed first-person narrator, in which speaks for the entire town. By using an unknown narrator, it allows for the effects of multiple characters rolled into one. William Faulkner ideally created a choric character through his comparable Greek-style writing.
“A Rose for Emily” does not obey the typical character profile of a narrator. Short stories are written for the audience to be easily engaged and be able to follow along to the plot without trouble. The story’s first few opening lines start with the funeral of the main character, Miss Emily, and how the townspeople recollect what they knew of her. Quickly, it makes a sharp turn and the narrator displays time Miss Emily had before her death. Miss Emily, when alive, was charming and an overall happy woman. However, when she grew old, she came to the realization she wanted to live a life in quarantine. When Miss Emily’s father died, the mood around the town was a pitiful one. Miss Emily inherited the house, all to herself. No one but her servant Tobe was allowed in the house. Most of the townspeople just imagined what it could look like. Since Emily met a man named Colonel Sartoris, her taxes were never paid, due to her family’s authority. The setting now introduces us to a character named Homer Barron. Homer was a Yankee man who is portrayed as being from a lower class of society. Homer started becoming closer to the town and its people, so, she felt betrayed and took matters into her own hands. She poisoned him. Why would Emily do this?
The Plot of “A Rose For Emily”
William Faulkner used metaphors throughout his writing style to tie the reader into the event. Homer was sought out to be a “bachelor”, but Emily comes from a well, respected family so this is something new to her. Miss Emily has been alone her whole life and her father drove away all compatible contenders. After he died, now she was able to start a relationship. The tone becomes very cynical at this point. An example that comes from the story is that, when Miss Emily goes to buy the Arsenic poison to kill Homer, it says on the package “For Rats.” To Miss Emily, a RAT was compared to Homer Barron. The narrator leaves the readers with a very morbid taste. As readers, we are left with a complex question as to did Miss Emily commit this act so he would never leave her again? This question can be assisted by the fact, she kept his decaying body to sleep with her every night in bed. If Homer was considered a player, this was Emily’s way to be superior, to make sure he never wandered off.
The narrator’s point of view throughout “A Rose for Emily” was just another way for William Faulkner to be successful. The story was so perplexed, ranging from the narrators and the complexity of the chronological orders of events. By using this point of view, we are left with wondering if the narrator is either young, old, male, or, female. It also allows for the narrator to frequently change the opinions of Miss Emily throughout the narration. The narrator commiserates Emily, but never has consequences for her actions. William Faulkner uses a sense of intimacy between the readers and Miss Emily’s story. Faulkner uses his infamous ways of providing a tone full of gossip and confessions. The narrator’s tone was then able to play both sides of the Jefferson, Mississippi nature. William Faulkner was known for writing stories with the intent of not holding back anything. His style of descriptive and sensory imagery allowed for readers to experience the pleasing side, along with the dark cynical side.
The Theme of “A Rose for Emily”
William Faulkner and the narrator achieved the overall theme of “A Rose for Emily”, which was tradition vs change. By using metaphors, sensory imaging, a complex order of events, Miss Emily showed the struggles of change in a radical, southern state. Ms. Emily was trying to stay true to her traditions, while the community changed year by year. The narrator described her as a “living monument” She was out of touch with the real world, which was right outside her window. By keeping Homers’ dead body captive in her room, that was the narrator’s way of showing the maximum attempts of stopping time and preventing the inevitable, dreadful word, change. Emily was brought to blend death and change interchangeably. She was stuck in the past, with no cure on how to escape. William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, was jam packed with literary elements of character, setting, plot and narrative point of views. The ‘Rose’ in the title is symbolized as being a sign of love. The will desire to love. The rose could also symbolize her bridal bouquet if she married Homer. Overall, Miss Emily was able to keep her rose forever, Homer.