A rose for Emily

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“A Rose for Emily”

By William Faulkner



  • William Faulkner

    • a Nobel Prize-winning American author

    • One of the most influential writers of the 20th century, his reputation is based on his novels, novellas and short stories

    • also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.

    • Most of Faulkner's works are set in his native state of Mississippi.

    • He is considered one of the most important Southern writers along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.

    • Faulkner received the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature for "his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel."

  • Writing

    • * The Sound and the Fury (1929)

    • As I Lay Dying (1930)

    • Light in August (1932)

    • Absalom, Absalom! (1936)

  • “A Rose for Emily”

    • originally published in the April 30, 1930, issue of Forum.

    • was his first short story published in a major magazine.

    • is the story of an eccentric spinster, Emily Grierson.

    • An unnamed narrator details the strange circumstances of Emily’s life and her odd relationships with her father, her lover, and the town of Jefferson, and the horrible secret she hides.

  • Setting of “A Rose for Emily”
    • takes place in Jefferson, the county seat of Yoknapatawpha.


    • Jefferson is a critical setting in much of Faulkner’s fiction.

  • Civil War (1861-1865)

  • The American Civil War (ACW), also known as the War between the States or simply the Civil War (see naming), was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 between the United States (the "Union" or the "North") and several Southern slave states that had declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America (the "Confederacy" or the "South"). The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery, and, after four years of bloody combat (mostly in the South), the Confederacy was defeated, slavery was abolished, and the difficult Reconstruction process of restoring unity and guaranteeing rights to the freed slaves began.

  • Characters

  • Emily Grierson,  
    Homer Barron, a day worker
    Colonel Sartoris, 
    Judge Stevens,
    Wyatt (old lady) 
    Two of Emily's cousins
    Town people

  • Ending?

    • Faulkner himself modestly referred to it as a “ghost story,” but many critics recognize it as an extraordinarily versatile work.

    • ‘‘A Rose for Emily’’ has been ‘‘read variously as a Gothic horror tale, a study in abnormal psychology, an allegory of the relations between North and South, a meditation on the nature of time, and a tragedy with Emily as a sort of tragic heroine.’’

  • Criticism on “A Rose for Emily”

  • A Surprising Ending?
  • Emily’s life


    • Miss Emily as a symbol

      • A symbol of death in life

      • A symbol of the South’s refusal to let die the myth of the Lost Cause

    • Miss Emily’s life as a tragedy

      • Miss Emily can't let go of the past.  She tries to hold on to her father by not letting the town's people bury him, but eventually realizes that she must. 

  • The narrator-as-the-town

    • makes judgments both for and against Miss Emily, and also presents outside observations

    • judges Miss Emily as a fallen monument, but simultaneously as a lady who is above reproach, who is too good for the common townspeople, and who holds herself aloof.

  • William Faulkner speaks on "A Rose for Emily" in 1955:

    • I don't know whether I would have liked her or not, I might have been afraid of her. Not of her, but of anyone who had suffered, had been warped, as her life had been probably warped by a selfish father . . . .

    • [The title] was an allegorical title; the meaning was, here was a woman who had had a tragedy, an irrevocable tragedy and nothing could be done about it, and I pitied her and this was a salute . . . to a woman you would hand a rose.




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