In "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, what details foreshadow the conclusion of the story?

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

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The story " A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner distinguishes itself from other stories in two distinct areas: the fractured time element and the narrator.  From these two aspects of the story, the reader finds himself in a delicious, gothic mystery story.  From beginning to end, Faulkner draws his readers into the life of Emily Grierson because who knows what is going to happen next. 

The reader finds many hints leading to the horrific ending of the story. These clues foretell the obvious: something is not quite right in Emily's house. Look at the events leading up to the ending which predict an unusual resolution.


Section 1

No one has been inside Emily's house for over ten years.

She refuses to accept death [Colonel Sartoris had been dead for several years.] This happens more than once.

Section 2

There was a terrible smell emerging from Emily's property and house.

It's simple enough," he said. "Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don't. .."

"Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?"

Emily's family has been known to have mental illness.

Again, refusing to accept death, Emily does not release her father's body for three days after he died.

Section 3

Emily goes out with Homer Barron.

Barron admits that he is a homosexual and will never marry.

Emily buys poison without telling the druggist why she needs it.

Section 4

Homer leaves town.

After Homer leaves, Emily is not seen for six months. 

When she is seen again, her hair has turned completely gray. [When is that gray hair mentioned again?]

Emily buys some men's toiletries labeled HB.

Emily dies downstairs in a chair.

Section 5

The town already knew something was wrong in the room.

Of course, the rest of the story is the conclusion.

Through the unusual narration of events, the reader has to go back and reread the story to see what he missed before coming to the ending. What a fun read!  Never ordinary, Faulkner's rose for Emily was this masterpiece.


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