Entry: Plot development of a story or a movie you like A Rose for Emily William Faulkner A Rose for Emily is one of stories in The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (1950). This story is about the life of Emily Grierson, a woman who presents for the last generation of traditional Southern America noble families. The tragic life and death of Miss Emily demonstrates how family’s autocracy and society’s prejudice could ruin a woman’s life who only longs for love, longs for having her own family. As many others remarkable short-story, this Faulkner’s fiction appears with a subtle use of plot.
The back and forth between past and present can confuse readers who is familiar with chronological arrangement. Nevertheless, this complicated arrangement has a significant impact on disclosing the grim surprise in the end of the story. A Rose for Emily is divided into five sections. Each section is in proportion to one noticeable event in the life of Emily. The narrator speaks in the “we” voice – the first-person plural perspective, represents the townspeople of Jefferson. The story is set in the South of American, in a period of time ranging from before to after the Civil War.
Therefore, the conflict the story containing is the combination of conflicts inside Emily herself and the society’s conflict. The story begins with the exposition: the announcement of the death of Miss Emily Grierson and how the entire town feels when attending her funeral. “…the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one… had seen in at least teen years…” The first sentence of the story reveals with reader the isolated life of Emily and the special osition of Emily in the thought of Jefferson’s community. In the narrator’s eyes, she was a “fallen monument”, a pitiful remnant of the past. To the next paragraph, the narrator describes the Grierson’s old house which long ago used to have a golden age. Now, existing among modern garages and gas pumps which come along with the invasion of the North, this decayed southern house is nothing than “an eyesore among eyesores”. The detail about the house is an implicit introduction for the one of conflicts in A rose for Emily: the conflict between the South and the North.
After the short introduction, the narrator starts focusing on Miss Emily – the protagonist of this story. However, the imaged of Miss Emily which is described now is not the young Emily but an old lady living in an ancient house with a “charitable” tax exemption. Time of the story steps back not at the starting but at a later position. In additional, this situation also leads the readers to the first conflict in the story which is related with Emily’s tax immunity: The conflict between her and the next generation of Jefferson – the town she lived in.
In the past, after the death of her father, Colonel Sartoris remitted her taxes forever. Nonetheless, new city authorities did not accept this arrangement. They tried many ways to contact her and make her pay her taxes but none of them work. Finally, they came to her house asking for her to obey. And she turned them down with an extremely cold and determined attitude. By depicting the collapse of her house and even herself, her ugly appearance and her cold words, the narrator give the readers the first impression of who Miss Emily is, shows the readers Emily’s poor life and make the readers curious about her personality.
In section two, when the first conflict seems to be resolved, the author takes us to the second conflict by the similarity between it and the first one: the clash between Miss Emily and other people in society. This conflict happened thirty years earlier, two years after her father’s death and a short time after her lover left her. People could not stand the terrible smell from her house but Miss Emily did not do anything to stop it, just like she even did not realize the existence of that smell. At the end, they had to solve the problem on their own by slinking in her house and sprinkled lime there.
The conflict ended quickly. After that, the tension of this story temporary pauses with a long suspension. Narrator gives us more information about Miss Emily: her beauty when she was young, her father and his death, her inheritance, her reactions from her father’s death and people’s attitude toward her. Through the cold and severe view of others people in the town, readers could image how hard for Miss Emily to live in that society with deep psychological wounds causing by her father. When he was alive and even after he died, Mr. Grierson has always been a thick chain tying Emily inside their house forever.
He had driven away all the young men who wanted to have chance with Miss Emily. In his mind, none of them were quite good enough for her. She still is a single in the age of thirty. Three days after his death, finally, Miss Emily gave up her believe that he was still alive and agreed to bury his body. In section three of the story, author tells the readers about Emily’s love story. A next forth back to the time before the second conflict occurred. The exposition for this part is the coming of workers who paved the sidewalks and the appearance of foreman Homer Barron – Miss Emily’s lover.
He was a Yankee. People saw him and Miss Emily going out together. Now the third conflict starts. Since Emily Grierson was noble southern woman while Homer Barron was a construction foreman and a northerner, their relationship was “wrong” in people’s minds. People began to say “Poor Emily. ” Emily had to suffer the prejudice of society; still she carried her head high and kept her arrogance. The climax of this part and of the whole story comes when Miss Emily went to buy poison. At that time she was over thirty. Her face looked like a lighthouse-keeper’s face.
She arrived home with a pack of poison labeled “For rats”. Combining with the conversation between Miss Emily and the druggist and the information about her lover leaving her mentioned in the flashback before, the narrator put the idea that Miss Emily will commit suicide into the readers’ heads. Section four opens with the detail that the whole town believes Emily would kill herself. It is the same as the idea readers have in mind right now. Time continues to step back for a while before the moment when Emily bought poison. The narrator gives the readers more information about Emily and his lover Homer Barron.
Foreshadow appears in the beginning of this section when Homer said that he was not a marrying man. He drank with younger men in the Elks’ Club and then went out on Sunday with Miss Emily. The public relationship of Miss Emily and him irritated townspeople so they tried to interfere by inviting Emily’s cousins to watching her. Homer gone and went back after Emily’s cousins leave Jefferson. People saw him entering Emily’s house. After that, they never saw him again. Poison and a runaway lover, Jefferson’s citizen and readers have enough evidence to believe that Emily will commit suicide.
Nevertheless, she was still alive. After that event, she was almost never seen outside of her house, she got older, fatter. The information about her china-painting class which wasn’t last long gives readers the feeling that her existence from that time until the day she died was not thing more than a pathetic remains of the pass. After Emily died, everyone went to her house. Time comes back to the present. People stepped into a room which no one had seen in forty years. They found everything Miss Emily had prepared for her wedding in the past. And what shocked them was a corpse of man lying in the bed.
The story slowly comes to the final climax. The narrator and also readers can figure out that Miss Emily had murdered Homer Barron. Then they noticed the indentation of a head in the pillow next to Homer and found out a “long strand of iron-gray hair” which undoubtedly belonged to Miss Emily. Although narrator doesn’t say anything more, readers immediately know that after Miss Emily killed her lover, she has lain beside him till the day she died. The story ends without a clear satisfied ending or resolution. The last scene of A Rose for Emily is a full of obsessive images.
The readers will keep wondering for a long time about the miserable life of Emily and the reason for all of that. Refusing to change, refusing to move, eternally sticking to the dust of past, like a river stone forever stays the same place while water keeps on flowing through, Miss Emily chooses herself that way of ending. The social conflict of a whole era lies inside the complicated life of a pathetic woman. Eventually, the act of murder is just simply an unavoidable result. Despite all her bizarre actions and her murder crime, what reader sees from Miss Emily is nothing but only a victim of hardness and prejudge.