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If Emily did in fact murder Homer, what was her motive? i'm just confused on whether...

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blondecarrot16 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 31, 2007 at 1:49 AM via web

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If Emily did in fact murder Homer, what was her motive?

i'm just confused on whether it was because she didn't want to be a spinster for the rest of her life and Homer threated to leave her, or if it had to do with the civil war, or if she was carrying on with her father's tradition of chasing away every guy that comes, or if it's something else entirely.

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 31, 2007 at 5:52 AM (Answer #1)

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Well, we aren't told directly, but I'd say you've mostly got it right. Emily and Homer had kept company for a while, and then he disappears and she says she's buying the poison
"For rats." The implication—never directly stated—is that Homer has been a rat. I personally think he's going to leave her, and that no one leaves Emily without dying, but I wouldn't be surprised if he had taken advantage of her sexually first.

Sources:

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rowens | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 6, 2007 at 6:48 AM (Answer #2)

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Presumably, Emily has poisoned Homer in order to keep him from leaving her. By the time she meets Homer, her father has passed and left her alone after having driven off any potential suitors in her past. Since she is getting old and is unlikely to find another beau who will marry her, she becomes desperate when she realizes Homer (who "wasn't the marrying type" because, as he said, "he liked men"), was going to leave.

Terrified of being forever alone, she poisons Homer in an attempt to keep him. He is in her mind, much like a cherished rose given to a young woman by her beloved and pressed between the pages of a secret book, preserved forever in her rose-colored bridal suite. And just as a woman might revisit her withered and dried rose from time to time in order to recapture the moment of its newness, Emily visits her dried "rose" (Homer) and lies with him, remembering a dream that she cannot let die, but that could never come true--a dream of a life with Homer. Her murdering Homer was an act of desperation--and an attempt to avoid her inevitable loneliness.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 3, 2009 at 1:42 PM (Answer #4)

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Faulkner leaves the reader to speculate over Emily's motives. We can assume that the amiable Homer rejected Emily at some point, and she obviously planned her revenge with forethought. She concoted a reasonable excuse for the purchase of arsenic--"for rats"--and probably waited for one last bedroom tryst with Homer to ply the poison. (The tiny Emily probably did not kill the robust Homer elsewhere and then move his body into the bed; she likely applied the poison while he was in the bed. Likewise, she obviously did not kill him in a moment of passion.) Deciding that Homer was her last chance at monogamy, Emily must have known how the town would react to the break-up, and her embarrassment over the matter may have added to her decision to kill him. It was probably just Emily's peculiar way of possessiveness that led her to believe that it was better to keep Homer in some form than to let him go forever. Some readers have speculated that Emily discovered that Homer was homosexual, which could have been a motivating factor in the murder.

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