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A Rose for Emily Summary and Analysis

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This is a research paper summary and analysis of A Rose for Emily. William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily is a unique short story in that it is told in a nonlinear format, chronicling the life's activities of a woman from various points in her life. For some, this sort of presentation might be confusing and distracting, but when one learns the entire scope of the story's details, it is clear that Faulkner's story stands out above all others.

A Rose for Emily Summary and Analysis

A Rose for Emily and the Funeral

The story begins near the end, at the funeral of Miss Emily Grierson. The only person that had seen her home for the past ten years was her African American servant, who simply walked away after the services were over. Jumping  back, Faulkner writes about how three decades earlier, townspeople had complained about a nasty smell emanating from the house; rather than do anything about it, though, they merely sprinkled lime around the property and the smell gradually went away.

The timing of this event is important:

  • The funeral was two years after her father died, something Emily took very hard
  • The funeral in A Rose for Emily was just a short time after her lover, Homer Barron, had disappeared.
  • She had been seen purchasing arsenic in town a few months prior, and the townspeople thought she was going to kill herself because of Homer's indiscretions.
  • She then purchases men's items, and the townspeople think she and Homer are getting married, despite her family's objections to the arrangement; he leaves town and returns a short while later.
  • Shortly after his return, he is never seen again, and people simply think he ran away.

Emily's refusal to leave her house again just reinforces the idea that she is heartbroken over the loss of her lover.

A Rose for Emily and Homer

After her funeral, however, the townspeople enter her house for the first time in a decade. When they enter an upstairs bedroom, they find the body of Homer Barron, rotting in the bed. In the bed next to him is the indent of a head, and a long grey hair, the same color and style as Emily's. She was heartbroken over the loss of her lover, but not in the way the townspeople had imagined; she refused to allow him to leave her, even in death.

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