The Structure in William Faulkner's a Rose for Emily

Categories: Tim Winton

A Rose for Emily is a short story by celebrated American author William Faulkner. First published in 1930. It tells the story of one small Mississippi town’s local recluse and is written in Faulkner’s signature non-linear style. 'A Rose for Emily' discusses many dark themes that characterized the Old South and Southern Gothic fiction. The story explores themes of death and resistance to change. Emily Grierson had been oppressed by her father for most of her life and hadn't questioned it because that was her way of living.

Likewise, the antiquated traditions of the south (often harmful, such as in the treatment of black people) had remained acceptable, as that was their way of living.

At first, I listened to a copy of the audiobook it was interesting to say the least. After listing to it I felt I needed to read “A Rose for Emily” to better understand William Faulkner between the reading and listing to the story I have a better understand of this twisted story

A Rose for Emily' does not follow the chronological structure common to short stories.

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It bounces around in time, starting with Miss Emily's death and then delving into brief, nonsequential flashbacks. These memories and observations add tension to the story. The purpose of this nonlinear structure isn't to relate a history of Miss Emily's life, but rather to engage the reader in the town gossip. Although the war is over, Emily and her father continued to live as they did before, with her father refusing to allow her to marry.

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When he dies and leaves her alone at age 30, she is shocked and devastated.

Until she met Homor Barron was the gregarious foreman from the construction company, and the townspeople began to observe him in Miss Emily's company driving on Sundays. Then the narrator tells the story of when Miss Emily went to the druggist to request 'some poison.' The conversation between Miss Emily and the druggist is related word for word, and the druggist gives her the poison while strongly implying that it should only be used 'for rats and such.' When the package is delivered to her, 'For rats' is written on it. The townspeople are convinced Miss Emily is going to kill herself with the arsenic.

Miss Emily, seems to have disappeared. When she finally emerges six months later, she is overweight, and her hair has started to turn gray. A few years later she offers children's china painting classes at her home. The lessons last a handful of years but are cut short by a lack of students. At 74 she dies in a downstairs bedroom, head propped on a pillow After letting in the mourners after Miss Emily's death, Tobe disappeared out the back door. The two female cousins from Alabama arrived and held the funeral. After the funeral, speculation about the state of her house is high, and a few townspeople decide to explore what’s left. They find her bedroom locked, and they kick down the door to find inside every gift Emily ever bought for Homer. On the bed is the badly decomposed body of Homer Barron with an indentation in the pillow beside him and a single gray hair.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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The Structure in William Faulkner's a Rose for Emily. (2020, Nov 23). Retrieved from

The Structure in William Faulkner's a Rose for Emily essay
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