Explain the meaning of the title, "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner.  

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carol-davis's profile pic

carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner presents an intricate plot and fascinating time sequel.  The story belongs to Miss Emily Grierson, a lady of the Old South. 

Emily has had to endure many hardships in her life.  Her father dominated her life, refusing to allow her to have boyfriends. When he died, Emily was about thirty. 

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.

He left her alone, penniless, with only her home belonging to her.

About two years later, Homer Barron comes to town and begins to squire Emily around in a horse and buggy on Sundays.  What Emily does not know is that Homer has self-acclaimed that he likes men. 

The women in town begin to gossip about Emily, thinking that Homer is ruining her reputation. They call in the minister and her cousins, but, in the end, Emily convinces everyone that she and Homer are going to be married. She purchases a man watch, nightshirt, and other men's toiletries labeled with HB. 

It was also about this time that Emily purchases some arsenic from the druggist.  Possibly, it was to kill a rat. 

Not to long after this, Homer Barron is seen going into Emily's house through the back door.  That is the last time that he is seen.

Some of the neighbors begin to smell a stench around the Emily's house. Rather than embarrass her, several of the men take lime and spread it around the house to kill the odor.  Emily observes them from the upstairs window. 

When Emily dies about 40 years later, nothing much has happened in her life. She gave some china painting lessons and the new council tried to make her pay her taxes.  She referred them to Colonel Sartoris, who had been dead for many years.

Tobe had  been her only companion.  When she died in her downstairs chair, Emily was given a funeral worthy of a grand old dame of the south. Tobe lets in the public and goes out the back door never to be seen again.  Finally, the townspeople will break into the upstairs bedroom and discover the skeleton of Homer Barron and a pillow next to him with Emily's gray hair on it.

Since there is no mention of a rose in the story, Faulkner answered the question for all the readers.  Emily led such a tragic life. Nothing really good happened to her, so he gave her a rose in the title of the story.



bkre12345's profile pic

bkre12345 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I was thinking that the title came from how Emily can be compared to a rose.  Emily is such a delicate person and very hard to approach, like a rose with thorns.

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