In "A Rose for Emily" can you establish a clear chronology for all the events in Emily's life in the order in which they occurred?
How is the issue of chronology related to the larger thematic design of the story?
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Yes, you can establish a chronology in the order that the actions occurred, but it is hard. Faulkner jumps back and forth, so to get it right, you have to read it VERY carefully. Here's some major events, in the actual order of occurrence:
1. Emily's father dies, and she unwillingly lets them take his body away
2. Homer Barron arrives, and is seen with Emily about the town.
3. Aunts are sent to talk Emily into either marrying or dumping Homer; shortly thereafter, Emily buys a toiletry set engraved with "H.B."; Homer leaves town, then the aunts leave. A week later, Homer shows up again, then disappears for good.
4. Neighbors notice a bad smell around her house; town elders spread lime around her house to get rid of the smell.
5. It is mentioned that 6 mos. after Homer's disappearance, Emily is seen, fat and with gray hair. For 6 or 7 years, she gives painting lessons.
6. Much later, the new politicians in town attempt to collect taxes from Emily; she refuses.
7. Emily dies, people enter the house, and make their gruesome discovery.
When Faulkner stirs up the order as the narrator tells it, it enables him to foreshadow the major events, create suspense, and mimic human memories, which are often faulty and seamlessly jump expanses of time. It makes for a much more interesting, dynamic, and thought-provoking story.
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