1. Why this title is “a rose for emily”? (about 300 words, with clearly detail.)
2. Why this essay is first person perspective? (about 300 words, with clearly detail.)
Please read and answer these two questions separately.
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A Rose for Emily
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole
town went to 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 save an old man-servant–a
combined gardener and cook–had seen in at
least ten years.
It was a big, squarish frame house that had
once been white, decorated with cupolas
and spires and scrolled balconies in the
heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set
on what had once been our most select
street. But garages and cotton gins had
encroached and obliterated even the august
names of that neighborhood; only Miss
Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn
and coquettish decay above the cotton
wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore
among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had
gone to join the representatives of those
august names where they lay in the cedar-
bemused cemetery among the ranked and
anonymous graves of Union and
Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of
Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a
duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary
obligation upon the town, dating from that
day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the
mayor–he who fathered the edict that no
Negro woman should appear on the streets
without an apron-remitted her taxes, the
dispensation dating from the death of her
father on into perpetuity. Not that Miss
Emily would have accepted charity.
Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale
to the effect that Miss Emily’s father had
loaned money to the town, which the town,
as a matter of business, preferred this way
of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’
generation and thought could have invented
it, and only a woman could have believed it.
When the next generation, with its more
modern ideas, became mayors and
aldermen, this arrangement created some
little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year
they mailed her a tax notice. February came,
and there was no reply. They wrote her a
formal letter, asking her to call at the
sheriff’s office at her convenience. A week
later the mayor wrote her himself, offering
to call or to send his car for her, and
received in reply a note on paper of an
archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy
in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer
went out at all. The tax notice was also
enclosed, without comment.
A Rose For Emily William Faulkner
They called a special meeting of the Board
of Aldermen. A deputation waited upon her,
knocked at the door through which no
visitor had passed since she ceased giving
china-painting lessons eight or ten years
earlier. They were admitted by the old
Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway
mounted into still more shadow. It smelled
of dust and disuse–a close, dank smell. The
Negro led them into the parlor. It was
furnished in heavy, leather-covered
furniture. When the Negro opened the
blinds of one window, they could see that
the leather was cracked; and when they sat
down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about
their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the
single sun-ray. On a tarnished gilt easel
before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait
of Miss Emily’s father.
They rose when she entered–a small, fat
woman in black, with a thin gold chain
descending to her waist and vanishing into
her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a
tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small
and spare; perhaps that was why what
would have been merely plumpness in
another was obesity in her. She looked
bloated, like a body long submerged in
motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her
eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face,
looked like two small pieces of coal pressed
into a lump of dough as they moved from
one face to another while the visitors stated
She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in
the door and listened quietly until the
spokesman came to a stumbling halt. Then
they could hear the invisible watch ticking
at the end of the gold chain.
Her voice was dry and cold. “I have no
taxes in Jefferson.
Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps
one of you can gain access to the city
records and satisfy yourselves.”
“But we have. We are the city authorities,
Miss Emily. Didn’t you get a notice from
the sheriff, signed by him?”
“I received a paper, yes,” Miss Emily said.
“Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff …
I have no taxes in Jefferson.”
“But there is nothing on the books to show
that, you see We must go by the–”
“See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in
“But, Miss Emily–”
“See Colonel Sartoris.”
(Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten
years.) “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!”
The Negro appeared. “Show these
So she vanquished them, horse and foot, just
as she had vanquished their fathers thirty
years before about the smell.
That was two years after her father’s
death and a short time after her sweetheart–
the one we believed would marry her –had
deserted her. After her father’s death she
went out very little; after her sweetheart
A Rose For Emily William Faulkner
went away, people hardly saw her at all.
A few of the ladies had the temerity to call,
but were not received, and the only sign of
life about the place was the Negro man–a
young man then–going in and out with a
“Just as if a man–any man–could keep a
kitchen properly, “the ladies said; so they
were not surprised when the smell
developed. It was another link between the
gross, teeming world and the high and
A neighbor, a woman, complained to the
mayor, Judge Stevens, eighty years old.
“But what will you have me do about it,
madam?” he said.
“Why, send her word to stop it,” the
woman said. “Isn’t there a law? ”
“I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” Judge
Stevens said. “It’s probably just a snake or a
rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. I’ll
speak to him about it.”
The next day he received two more
complaints, one from a man who came in
diffident deprecation. “We really must do
something about it, Judge. I’d be the last one
in the world to bother Miss Emily, but
we’ve got to do something.” That night the
Board of Aldermen met–three graybeards
and one younger man, a member of the
“It’s simple enough,” he said. “Send her
word to have her place cleaned up. Give her
a certain time to do it in, and if she don’t…”
“Dammit, sir,” Judge Stevens said, “will
you accuse a lady to her face of smelling
So the next night, after midnight, four
men crossed Miss Emily’s lawn and slunk
about the house like burglars, sniffing along
the base of the brickwork and at the cellar
openings while one of them performed a
regular sowing motion with his hand out of
a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke
open the cellar door and sprinkled lime
there, and in all the outbuildings. As they
recrossed the lawn, a window that had been
dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it,
the light behind her, and her upright torso
motionless as that of an idol. They crept
quietly across the lawn and into the shadow
of the locusts that lined the street. After a
week or two the smell went away.
That was when people had begun to feel
really sorry for her. People in our town,
remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-
aunt, had gone completely crazy at last,
believed that the Griersons held themselves
a little too high for what they really were.
None of the young men were quite good
enough for Miss Emily and such. We had
long thought of them as a tableau, Miss
Emily a slender figure in white in the
background, her father a spraddled
silhouette in the foreground, his back to her
and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them
framed by the back-flung front door. So
when she got to be thirty and was still
single, we were not pleased exactly, but
vindicated; even with insanity in the family
she wouldn’t have turned down all of her
chances if they had really materialized.
A Rose For Emily William Faulkner
When her father died, it got about that
the house was all that was left to her; and in
a way, people were glad. At last they could
pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a
pauper, she had become humanized. Now
she too would know the old thrill and the
old despair of a penny more or less.
The day after his death all the ladies
prepared to call at the house and offer
condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss
Emily met them at the door, dressed as
usual and with no trace of grief on her face.
She told them that her father was not dead.
She did that for three days, with the
ministers calling on her, and the doctors,
trying to persuade her to let them dispose of
the body. Just as they were about to resort to
law and force, she broke down, and they
buried her father quickly.
We did not say she was crazy then. We
believed she had to do that. We remembered
all the young men her father had driven
away, and we knew that with nothing left,
she would have to cling to that which had
robbed her, as people will.
She was sick for a long time. When we saw
her again, her hair was cut short, making her
look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to
those angels in colored church windows–
sort of tragic and serene.
The town had just let the contracts for
paving the sidewalks, and in the summer
after her father’s death they began the work.
The construction company came with
riggers and mules and machinery, and a
foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee–a
big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and
eyes lighter than his face. The little boys
would follow in groups to hear him cuss the
riggers, and the riggers singing in time to
the rise and fall of picks. Pretty soon he
knew everybody in town. Whenever you
heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the
square, Homer Barron would be in the
center of the group. Presently we began to
see him and Miss Emily on Sunday
afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled
buggy and the matched team of bays from
the livery stable.
At first we were glad that Miss Emily
would have an interest, because the ladies
all said, “Of course a Grierson would not
think seriously of a Northerner, a day
laborer.” But there were still others, older
people, who said that even grief could not
cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige —
without calling it noblesse oblige. They just
said, “Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should
come to her.” She had some kin in
Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen
out with them over the estate of old lady
Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no
communication between the two families.
They had not even been represented at the
And as soon as the old people said,
“Poor Emily,” the whispering began. “Do
you suppose it’s really so?” they said to one
another. “Of course it is. What else could . .
.” This behind their hands; rustling of
craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed
upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the
thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched
team passed: “Poor Emily.”
A Rose For Emily William Faulkner
She carried her head high enough–even
when we believed that she was fallen. It was
as if she demanded more than ever the
recognition of her dignity as the last
Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of
earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness.
Like when she bought the rat poison, the
arsenic. That was over a year after they had
begun to say “Poor Emily,” and while the
two female cousins were visiting her.
“I want some poison,” she said to the
druggist. She was over thirty then, still a
slight woman, though thinner than usual,
with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the
flesh of which was strained across the
temples and about the eyesockets as you
imagine a lighthouse-keeper’s face ought to
look. “I want some poison,” she said.
“Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats
and such? I’d recom–”
“I want the best you have. I don’t care
The druggist named several. “They’ll kill
anything up to an elephant. But what you
“Arsenic,” Miss Emily said. “Is that a
“Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma’am. But what
“I want arsenic.”
The druggist looked down at her. She
looked back at him, erect, her face like a
strained flag. “Why, of course,” the druggist
said. “If that’s what you want. But the law
requires you to tell what you are going to
use it for.”
Miss Emily just stared at him, her head
tilted back in order to look him eye for eye,
until he looked away and went and got the
arsenic and wrapped it up. The Negro
delivery boy brought her the package; the
druggist didn’t come back. When she
opened the package at home there was
written on the box, under the skull and
bones: “For rats.”
So the next day we all said, “She will kill
herself”; and we said it would be the best
thing. When she had first begun to be seen
with Homer Barron, we had said, “She will
marry him.” Then we said, “She will
persuade him yet,” because Homer himself
had remarked–he liked men, and it was
known that he drank with the younger men
in the Elks’ Club–that he was not a
marrying man. Later we said, “Poor Emily”
behind the jalousies as they passed on
Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy,
Miss Emily with her head high and Homer
Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his
teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.
Then some of the ladies began to say
that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad
example to the young people. The men did
not want to interfere, but at last the ladies
forced the Baptist minister–Miss Emily’s
people were Episcopal– to call upon her.
He would never divulge what happened
during that interview, but he refused to go
A Rose For Emily William Faulkner
back again. The next Sunday they again
drove about the streets, and the following
day the minister’s wife wrote to Miss
Emily’s relations in Alabama.
So she had blood-kin under her roof
again and we sat back to watch
developments. At first nothing happened.
Then we were sure that they were to be
married. We learned that Miss Emily had
been to the jeweler’s and ordered a man’s
toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on
each piece. Two days later we learned that
she had bought a complete outfit of men’s
clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said,
“They are married.” We were really glad.
We were glad because the two female
cousins were even more Grierson than Miss
Emily had ever been.
So we were not surprised when Homer
Barron–the streets had been finished some
time since–was gone. We were a little
disappointed that there was not a public
blowing-off, but we believed that he had
gone on to prepare for Miss Emily’s coming,
or to give her a chance to get rid of the
cousins. (By that time it was a cabal, and we
were all Miss Emily’s allies to help
circumvent the cousins.) Sure enough, after
another week they departed. And, as we had
expected all along, within three days Homer
Barron was back in town. A neighbor saw
the Negro man admit him at the kitchen
door at dusk one evening.
And that was the last we saw of Homer
Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time.
The Negro man went in and out with the
market basket, but the front door remained
closed. Now and then we would see her at a
window for a moment, as the men did that
night when they sprinkled the lime, but for
almost six months she did not appear on the
streets. Then we knew that this was to be
expected too; as if that quality of her father
which had thwarted her woman’s life so
many times had been too virulent and too
furious to die.
When we next saw Miss Emily, she had
grown fat and her hair was turning gray.
During the next few years it grew grayer
and grayer until it attained an even pepper-
and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning.
Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it
was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the
hair of an active man.
From that time on her front door
remained closed, save for a period of six or
seven years, when she was about forty,
during which she gave lessons in china-
painting. She fitted up a studio in one of the
downstairs rooms, where the daughters and
granddaughters of Colonel Sartoris’
contemporaries were sent to her with the
same regularity and in the same spirit that
they were sent to church on Sundays with a
twenty-five-cent piece for the collection
plate. Meanwhile her taxes had been
Then the newer generation became the
backbone and the spirit of the town, and the
painting pupils grew up and fell away and
did not send their children to her with boxes
of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut
from the ladies’ magazines. The front door
closed upon the last one and remained
closed for good. When the town got free
postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to
let them fasten the metal numbers above her
A Rose For Emily William Faulkner
door and attach a mailbox to it. She would
not listen to them.
Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the
Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going
in and out with the market basket. Each
December we sent her a tax notice, which
would be returned by the post office a week
later, unclaimed. Now and then we would
see her in one of the downstairs windows–
she had evidently shut up the top floor of
the house–like the carven torso of an idol in
a niche, looking or not looking at us, we
could never tell which. Thus she passed
from generation to generation–dear,
inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and
And so she died. Fell ill in the house
filled with dust and shadows, with only a
doddering Negro man to wait on her. We
did not even know she was sick; we had
long since given up trying to get any
information from the Negro
He talked to no one, probably not even
to her, for his voice had grown harsh and
rusty, as if from disuse.
She died in one of the downstairs rooms,
in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her
gray head propped on a pillow yellow and
moldy with age and lack of sunlight.
The Negro met the first of the ladies at the
front door and let them in, with their
hushed, sibilant voices and their quick,
curious glances, and then he disappeared.
He walked right through the house and out
the back and was not seen again.
The two female cousins came at once.
They held the funeral on the second day,
with the town coming to look at Miss Emily
beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the
crayon face of her father musing profoundly
above the bier and the ladies sibilant and
macabre; and the very old men –some in
their brushed Confederate uniforms–on the
porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily
as if she had been a contemporary of theirs,
believing that they had danced with her and
courted her perhaps, confusing time with its
mathematical progression, as the old do, to
whom all the past is not a diminishing road
but, instead, a huge meadow which no
winter ever quite touches, divided from
them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the
most recent decade of years.
Already we knew that there was one
room in that region above stairs which no
one had seen in forty years, and which
would have to be forced. They waited until
Miss Emily was decently in the ground
before they opened it.
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
decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon
the valance curtains of faded rose color,
upon the rose-shaded lights, upon the
dressing table, upon the delicate array of
crystal and the man’s toilet things backed
with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that
the monogram was obscured. Among them
lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been
removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface
A Rose For Emily William Faulkner
a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair
hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it
the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.
The man himself lay in the bed.
For a long while we just stood there,
looking down at the profound and fleshless
grin. The body had apparently once lain in
the attitude of an embrace, but now the long
sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even
the grimace of love, had cuckolded him.
What was left of him, rotted beneath what
was left of the nightshirt, had become
inextricable from the bed in which he lay;
and upon him and upon the pillow beside
him lay that even coating of the patient and
Then we noticed that in the second
pillow was the indentation of a head. One of
us lifted something from it, and leaning
forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and
acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of
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