Homework Help

5 Sections = ?Faulkner divided "A Rose for Emily" into five distinct...

user profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 7, 2007 at 11:09 AM via web

dislike 2 like
5 Sections = ?

Faulkner divided "A Rose for Emily" into five distinct sections. I was curious what effect this formal division had on you as you read the story, and what meaning anyone saw in it. For example, do the five sections line up with the five acts of a traditional play? How so? Or is there another structure and meaning?

Thanks!

Greg

7 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 7, 2007 at 4:06 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like
5 Sections = ?

Faulkner divided "A Rose for Emily" into five distinct sections. I was curious what effect this formal division had on you as you read the story, and what meaning anyone saw in it. For example, do the five sections line up with the five acts of a traditional play? How so? Or is there another structure and meaning?

Thanks!

Greg

An article by Floyd Watkins in Modern Language speaks to Faulkner's purpose in the "five sections".  He argues:  "Faulkner's structural problem in "A Rose for Emily " demanded

that he treat all of Miss Emily's life and her increasing withdrawal

from the community and that by extreme selection he give a unity,

a focus to these conflicts. Thus he divided the story into five parts

and based them on incidents of isolation and intrusion....

In part one there is one invasion: after several notifications, the

Board of Aldermen enter her home in a futile effort to collect her

taxes. The second part describes two forced entrances into her isolation, both of them caused by a death....

burial of her dead father, the purpose of the second intrusion, is

accomplished only after three days of persuasion....

The inviolability of Miss Emily's isolation is maintained

the central division, part three, in which no outsider enters her home...

the fourth contains two forced entrances...

The Baptist

minister calls upon Miss Emily to chide her for the disgrace

to the town caused by her affair with the Yankee Homer Barron;

and a letter from the rebuked minister's wife causes the second

intrusion, a visit from her relations in Alabama. The symmetricalness

of the story is rounded out in the fifth part when the horde

comes to bury a corpse, a Miss Emily no longer able to defy them.

Floyd C. Watkins/Modern Language Notes,

Vol. 69, No. 7. (Nov., 1954), pp. 508-510.

 

user profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 7, 2007 at 4:09 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

That is a fine analysis, Jamie. Thank you for point us to that. I have to admit, though, I didn't track those points regarding intrusion, etc. when I was reading it. As a reader, the story felt like it moved in a steady flow.

Anybody else have thoughts on this area--the tension between the formal structure, the thematic elements Jamie pointed us to, and the reading experience?

Thanks!

Greg

user profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 7, 2007 at 4:26 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

What fascinates me about the analysis is that the piece reads in such a non-linear way--that it "sounds" like gossip and wanders in ideas mimicking stream-of-consciousness non-structure, yet underneath this the organizing principle is incidents of intrusion (according to the critic). Yet, somehow, this doesn't tell the whole story for it doesn't explain why he chose this fragmented structure in ordering the incidents, unless each becomes deeper into her space, her selfhood, except for part 3, where she remains inviolate (in deference to the "lady"?). The final invasion is certainly the "deepest" in that the town intrudes upon her home, but the picture of Emily and her father in part 1, he with the whip standing in front of her, seems to be the most "penetrating" of all intrusions in that this man made possible all intrusions that followed--he "hollowed" her self (as tyranny does) in many ways.

user profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 15, 2007 at 5:36 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

Do you think it would be possible to separate the categories into the 5 stages of grief?  Denial from the town about what is happening in the house, Anger about the failure to pay taxes, Bargaining with Emily to remove the body of her father, Depression - a sense of giving up - when the town lays the lye about the house, and Acceptance, when the town enters upon her death.  Perhaps these stages could also refer to the development of this southern town as it tires to adjust to a loss of character and changes in a modern world.

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 26, 2010 at 6:55 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

I think structurally this story is amazing in the way that on the surface at least it appears to be disjointed and muddled - the use of flashbacks definitely contribute to this sense of disorientation. However, as the other posts above make clear, we can justify the organisation of this text based on the key theme of intrusion and loneliness, as we discover a little bit more about Miss Emily with each section.

user profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 26, 2010 at 7:54 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

I think it is interesting that while the story is told in a stream of consciousnous manner, it is clear that the narrator knows where he is headed -- he is clearly building the story to its final sentence of revelation.  Also, the narrator uses 5 adjectives to describe Miss Emily in the 4th section -- one for each section of the story?  He calls her: dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.  Could one of those adjectives match the theme of each section?

user profile pic

e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM (Answer #9)

dislike 0 like

Laying out the story in five sections, each told from the perspective of an informed outsider, a sense of clarity is created. As the reader, I feel that the narrator knows Emily's whole story. He is able to tell that story almost as if it were a legal case with all the pertinent details set upon the proverbial table.

This leads to the ironic conclusion where the seemingly all-knowing narrator expresses surprise at what is found in the attic bedroom. We are set up not to expect surprise because the story has been so clearly delineated, so organized.  

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes