William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” Review


“A Rose for Emily” is a short story that was written by William Faulkner in the year 1931. This is among this author’s short stories that are anthologized the most. There is the use of grotesque imagery and “we” or “first-person plural” narration in the story to survey a culture that is not able to put up with its death and rotting. This story draws from American Gothic literature. The story is about a lady called Emily Grierson, who is overwhelmed with loneliness and is leading her life without love and affection. Based on the title of the story, “A Rose for Emily”, the rose is symbolic. In modern times, the rose stands for friendship and love in a person’s life. It is a symbol of romances and lovers and also dreams. But Emily has not lived to realize these. Emily only experienced love from her father and she stayed locked up. She experienced loneliness and only dreamt of love that was lacking in her life. The rose indicated in the title represents this lack of love. “A rose” in the story is a symbol of those roses that were never received by Emily, those lovers that failed to notice her.

Emily’s Struggles

Emily was a sheltered southern woman who had great struggles with her sanity and the changing world around her. She was an alienated unmarried woman who lived in the South at a period starting from the late 1800s until the early 1900s. The story takes place in a town called Jefferson. This town in which the events in the short story “A Rose for Emily” take place is beyond a mere setting; it takes its depiction along with the major character, Emily. This setting is important because it provides a clear understanding of the reason for Emily’s coming up with the decisions she comes up with within the story. The story opens with the announcement of Emily’s death. The narrator in the story, who talks in the voice of the “first-person” of “we” and tends to be a representative of the town, presents the story about Emily’s life as a woman who was lonely and who was left without any penny by his father. The father used to drive away those who wanted to marry her so that they could not be any closer to her, “We remember all the young men her father had driven away” (Faulkner 142).

At the time the father died, she was left with a huge house that was dilapidated and no person in the town had been invited to this house. There was vivid interest among these people at the time they were eventually able to get in to the house when Emily dies. This is a point at which the people came to find out the truth about the level to which Emily’s problems had driven her. Emily had kept the corpse of Homer Barron who was her lover from the North in the bedroom. She had kept this dead body of her lover from the time she killed him, several years back, and she went on sleeping with this dead body in the house. There was a room in that house that had not been seen by the outsiders in town for a period of forty years that had passed. When Emily had been buried, it had to be broken in to by the people to see what was inside. “The violence of breaking down the door seemed to fill this room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room” (Faulkner 147).

She had killed him using the rat poison. She did not do this for the reason of having hatred for this man but because of the belief she had that a man has to play an important part in her life. She had it in mind that taking this step was not a wild move and her objective was to be in a position to cling on to the male figure that she required in her life.


Emily lived in loneliness and lacked love and friendship, especially from men. The only person who was there to love was her father since he locked her up in the house and did not allow any man to come close to her. Even after the father died, she went through struggles in seeking love. She ended up killing her lover and staying with the body in her house for a very long time until the time she died.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William, “A Rose for Emily.” Discovering Literature: Stories, Poems, Plays. Ed. Hans P. Guth and Gabrielle L. Rico. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997. 140-147.

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