In-depth analysis of some of the most popular short stories including summaries, character analysis, narrative technique, symbolism and much more.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Summary: "A Rose For Emily"

A Summary of "A Rose For Emily" by William Faulkner

A Rose For Emily Summary
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Summary: "A Rose For Emily" Section I

William Faulkner’s "A Rose for Emily" follows the tragic life of the stories main character Emily Grierson. The story is divided by sections with each section looking at a key event in Emily’s life. Section one opens on the day of Emily’s funeral. Everyone is present, the mood is nostalgic as the narrator reminisces about Emily’s house, how it once captivated the people of the town, but now lays in ruins. The scene quickly backtracks to where we first learn of Emily, and her interactions with the people of the neighborhood. Emily, we learn has been failing at her civic duty by not paying taxes, which Colonel Sartoris states is due to a loan that was given to the town by Emily’s father, something which the narrator immediately hints is a merely an excuse. This we learn becomes a problem with Colonel Sartoris' successors who after numerous failures at receiving Emily’s taxes eventually meets with Emily. The meeting takes place at Emily’s home which is old, with worn furniture, and seems to have not been under any basic upkeep (much like Emily).Throughout the meeting Emily is defiant, insisting on the arrangement between her and Colonel Sartoris, and refusing to pay taxes. Emily refers the town's officials to Colonel Sartoris, completely unaware that he died close to a decade ago.

Summary: "A Rose For Emily" Section II

In Section two, Emily's neighbors complain about a stench that is coming from Emily's house. They complain to Judge Stevens, who being embarrassed on her behalf, is uncomfortable about bringing it to her attention. Her neighbors then take matters into their own hands, and four of the town’s men sneak onto her property at night to take care of the stench. It is soon realized that Emily is watching them, which causes the entire town to pity her situation. The narrator relates the town’s pity to Emily’s relationship with her father. As a young woman Emily had been heavily sheltered by her father who had prevented any suitors from ever courting her. He is described as being in the foreground holding a whip, having a protective stance. The narrator also speaks of her father's death, how Emily refusing to accept that he has passed on, actually keeps his body for some time, until the physicians convince her to bury him. Her behavior is viewed with sympathy, given the relationship with her father.

Summary: "A Rose For Emily" Section III

In Section three, Homer Barron is introduced, a construction worker who helps with renovations in  the town. He has a magnetic personality, and is often the center of attention. Eventually he and Emily form what the narrator hints is a romantic relationship The narrator is delighted at the courtship despite the fact that the women, and elders disliked the relationship due to Homer Barron being a” Notherner”. Emily visits a drugstore to purchase poison, and the druggist makes recommendations which Emily ignores . She instead requests arsenic which at first arouses the druggist curiosity, and makes him reluctant to sell it to her. Emily, however, remains mum and intimidates him with her stare after which he quickly obliges.

Summary: "A Rose For Emily" Section IV

In Section four, everyone is convinced that Emily will commit suicide, due to her inability to convince Homer Barron into settling down. Homer Barron it is noted has no interest in settling down and prefers being with men (this has been seen as proof that Homer Barron is a homosexual, however, many also state that given the context it may simply mean he enjoys the life of a bachelor.The theory will be examined in the character analysis section). The people of the town convince the religious leaders to contact Emily's cousins due to her immoral lifestyle stemming from her relationship with Homer Barron. After the cousins arrival Emily purchases which is viewed as a sign that Emily and Homer have decided to marry. Homer leaves, and the narrator assumes plans are being put into place to send the cousins away so the couple can begin their married life. The cousins eventually leave, and not long after Homer returns. He is last seen entering Emily's house, and nothing is heard of the supposed marriage again. Things progress, Emily ages, her hair changing color, and those of the town, the youth in particular eventually loses interest in her, no longer attending her painting classes. The town modernizes, with Emily refusing to modernize with it. She stops an attempt to have a mailbox and metal numbers placed at her house, and still ignores the town's tax notices. Emily eventually becomes sick and dies.

Summary: "A Rose For Emily" Section V

Section five returns to Emily's funeral. Everyone from the neighborhood is gathered at her house, the men of the town dress in their Confederate uniforms, and sit reminiscing about Emily. Soon their attention changes to seeing Emily's house. The funeral guests wait for Emily to be buried before entering the house. As they look around they eventually make it to Emily's bedroom. Upon entering they recognize the toilet set which Emily bought for Homer. On the bed they find a dead Homer Barron and Emily's hair. The narrator hints that Emily may have been a necrophiliac.

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