A Rose for Emily – William Faulkner

History: - Time Line



Narrative: can jump back in time


Plot summary:  first of all, the town goes to miss Emily’s funeral and there happens a flash back. The narrator tells us about her remittance of her taxes by colonel Sartoras. A delegation of the new people goes to her house and sees a portrait of her father. That portrait is symbolic, because even though her father is dead, his portrait is there to remind her of his authority. She sends them out [second flashback within a flash back]


2 years after her father’s death and just after Homer disappears, she’s 30 years old.  [Flashback stops right after the father’s death] the town ladies went to their house to pay respect, but Emily doesn’t admit her father’s death. [Flashback moves forward]


The construction company arrives and Homer is the foreman. The young people were happy for Emily but the older ones weren’t pleased because of her status “Noblesse- Oblige.” Their obligation is to set examples.


Emily goes to buy rat poison. The Baptist minister calls to talk some sense into her. Then the Baptist’s minister’s wife writes to Emily’s relatives. She’s seen buying men’s nightshirts and toiletries. Then Homer returns. 6 months later, Emily reappears with gray hair. [Fast forward]  Emily is 40 years old and she’s giving China painting lesson’s, the time when her taxes were remitted.


Finally Emily dies at the age of 60. The women of the town go to Emily’s house to see it. Toby the servant walks out of the backdoor and was never seen again. The women find Homer’s corpse on the bed, with a dent in the pillow beside it where one gray hair is.


Plot History: Chronological Order


Possible Analysis approach:


Psychological: Emily is psychotic; she retreats to a world of fantasy. Her psychosis stems from her father’s treatment to her.


Detective Aspect: Clues, Poison, dent in the pillow, long hair.


The South: the ‘new’ values of the south. Old values vs. New values. North vs. South


Gender: the men in the Emily’s life and the way they treated her. Homer, Colonel Sartoras, her father. Female weakness.


Mortality: the tragic life of Emily


Anthropological: Cultural Values


Character Motive: Why she murdered Homer? Emily’s background, the way she was treated almost as a goddess by the town.


Protagonist: Emily


Antagonist: Her father and the town people


Setting: In an old rich mansion in Jefferson town in Mississippi [south] in the late 18 hundreds


Climax of the story: When the town people enter the bridal sweet after Emily’s death.


Theme: Clinging to the past.


Explain: The writer portrays the idea twice in the story. First when Emily’s father dies and she denies it. The second is when they found Homer, who had been dead for 10 years, but she kept sleeping next to him.


Genres are in the story: Melodrama, Gothic, Detective, Tragedy


Miss Emily’s character and appearance change:  she starts off beautiful, slim and wearing white. Which is a symbol for her purity and innocence. But she changes later and becomes old, fat, and wears black dresses. Which indicates that she is no longer pure and innocent.



1- the whip: the father’s whip in the portrait indicates his strictness.

            2- the rose in the title: indicates the irony of the writer’s intention. Because while naturally a rose symbolizes love and respect he gives us the story of the complete misery that Emily suffers in her lifetime.

            3- The Indentation and the gray hair on the pillow: it means that she had been sleeping next to the dead corpse all these years.