At their funerals, people always held the dead in high esteem. Long due praises and respect pour when one is at his or her deathbed. Whether people at the funerals admire the dead or only showing respect which secretly laden with envy, the tribute we give to the dead will remind of the dead’s reputation. Will Faulkner wrote “A Rose for Emily” which told of a tribute given to unloved and sometimes pitied character that lived a life of self-absorption and without love. William Faulkner wrote in his short novel a story of how an unpleasing character was remembered and given tribute by her towns’ people.
Consistent with Faulkner’s style, “A Rose for Emily” is told by a narrator who often looks back in various points in time. The narrator of the story is the collective voice of Emily Grierson’s townspeople, who recollect their memory of the dead aristocrat. Published in April 30, 1930, the story is set in the fictional city of Jefferson, Mississippi. “A Rose for Emily”, which was issued in “Forum”, is also Faulkner’s first short story printed in national magazine.
The story is about Emily Grierson, who was left alone by her dead father, with a diminishing reputation of an aristocrat. Deprived by her father of a chance of getting married, Emily was left alone in poverty. Her dependence to him led her to desperation and denial of his death. The narrator pitied Emily’s status and recalls how she uses to rode the town with his father. Emily met and fell for Homer Barron, a workman paid to pave the streets. The town, who’s much concerned for her high status, is reluctant about her relation to Homer Barron and asked for Emily’s cousins to change her mind. Emily defended him to her cousins. Even as Homer claimed that “He was not marrying man,” Emily insists with their affair.
On the day that Emily bought arsenic, the town thought of her committing suicide for such troubled life. However Emily’s affair with Homer seems to improve; he was last seen visiting Emily’s house after she got rid of her cousins. But Homer suddenly vanished and was never again seen after that.
Although the crowd has caused much trouble and further misery in the life of Emily, they had also at times favored her. The gentleman and town mayor, Sartoris, exempted her from paying the taxes. He devised an invented loan to his father, of which he explained they were now paying through tax exemption. Later, after Sartoris died, the next officials finally thought of taxing Emily’s house. Emily snobbishly refused to pay tax and ask the collectors to inquire about it to Sartoris, who died 10 years. Finally at her funeral, the people discover in her room a dead body of a man who was recognized as Homer Barron.
Though an unlikely character, this short story is told about Emily as a tribute. “A Rose for Emily” remembers a character who has forgotten to live a meaningful life and love. Roses are given to people in able to hold for them a special place in memory. William Faulkner intended to remind his readers to keep the virtues that make life more vibrant and worth living such as love and selflessness.