In “A Rose for Emily,” William Faulkner tells the story of the reclusive Miss Emily Grierson, an old southern spinster from an era past. In just a few pages, he shows the character of the curious townsfolk and, with only a small amount of dialogue from Miss Emily, hints at an understanding of her thinking and choices to cling to a southern life that has long passed.
I’m sure I read this story in school, but I’m finding how great it is to re-read something with the perspective of being older. I don’t know if, back in high school, I could have appreciated Faulkner’s writing style and his ability to give the reader such a clear view of the personality of his characters.
Faulkner touches on the themes of change and death in “A Rose for Emily,” particularly as he shows how Emily and many people in the southern states resisted change after the Civil War. Miss Emily wants to continue to live in a time when her family was part of the upper class and tries to do that by shutting herself inside, as reconstruction and northern influences surround her. Faulkner also shows how she struggles to control the circumstances of death and decay, which play into the surprise ending, tying what seems to be just a descriptive detail into the final evidence of what she’s done.
If you have a few minutes to sit and relax, this short story is the perfect way to get a quick taste of Faulkner’s high quality literature!
William Faulkner (1897-1962) was an American writer from Oxford Mississippi and is considered one of the greatest writers of American literature. He placed many of his short stories and novels in the fictional Yoknapatwpha County, based on his own experiences in Lafayette and Holly Springs/Marshall Counties. In 1949, Faulkner received the Nobel Prize for Literature and received the Pulitzer Prize twice (1955 and 1963), for his novels A Fable and The Reivers. In addition to these works, Faulkner is best known for his novels The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner also wrote poetry, essays, screenplays and two stage plays.
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