What is the chronological order of events in "A Rose for Emily"?

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mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This question is harder to answer than one might think. Faulkner, in telling his story out of order, doesn't make it easy; it takes a very close reading of the novel in order to figure out the real order of major events. Faulkner slips in little clues here and there like "it was ten years later" or "no one saw Miss Emily for six months"; using those clues, you can piece it together. In a nutshell, here are some of the major events, in order of actual occurrence: 1. Her father dies; people finally convince her to give up the body. 2. Homer Barron arrives in town; people see her riding around in her carriage with him. 3. The aunts come, Emily buys toiletries with Homer's initials, AND arsenic. 4. The aunts leave, and Homer returns after being gone for 3 days, only to disappear forever. 5. The smell; lime is applied. 6. She isn't seen for a while; she gives painting lessons occasionally. 7. The aldermen visit about taxes, unsuccessfully. 8. Emily dies. I hope that helps, and if there are any details I missed, hopefully you can tell where to fit them in.
rmhope's profile pic

rmhope | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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To put Emily Grierson's life and death into a timeline from the information in the story, the reader must reconstruct events from hints given in the various sections of the story--which are not chronological. 

As a young woman, Emily lived with her father, and he scared away all potential suitors. Emily had out-of-town relatives, and one, a great-aunt, went crazy. Emily's father had a falling out with his family before he died. After his death, Emily refused to admit he had died, and it took three days for townspeople to convince her. No extended family came to the funeral. Emily was reclusive for a long time--months--after her father's death. Colonel Sartoris, the mayor, forgave Emily's taxes because she had no inheritance other than the house.  

About a year after her father's death, Homer Barron, a Northerner, began courting Emily. The town believed her unchaperoned affair with Homer was a scandal, and the Baptist minister called on her, but wouldn't say what happened. Female cousins came to stay with Emily. She purchased a men's toilet set, engraved with the initials H.B., and arsenic. The townspeople assumed Emily and Homer were getting married or had gotten married. Homer Barron left town, and the people believed he went home to prepare to move Emily to the North with him. The cousins went back to Alabama, and Homer Barron returned. He was seen entering Miss Emily's home. But he was never seen leaving. Shortly after, there was a horrible smell on the property and the aldermen came at night to spread lime around the home. This is the point at which Emily murdered Homer and slept with his corpse, but that is not revealed until the end of the story.

After that, Emily became reclusive. She wasn't seen at all for six months, and seldom for about eight years. Then, when she was about 40, she started giving china painting lessons for about six or seven years. After that, she was rarely seen and never went out. Colonel Sartoris had died, and the new generation of aldermen tried to collect taxes from Emily, to no avail. She died when she was about 72 years old. Emily's black servant who had lived with her since the death of her father walked out the day she died without saying anything to anyone. Her two cousins came from Alabama for the funeral. After the funeral, the townspeople broke down the door of Emily's upstairs bedroom and found the skeleton of Homer Barron in her bed.

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