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What point of view does "A Rose for Emily" use and what are its advantages?

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diana68 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 2, 2007 at 3:06 AM via web

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What point of view does "A Rose for Emily" use and what are its advantages?

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted June 2, 2007 at 3:34 AM (Answer #1)

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"A Rose for Emily" is told in third person limited perspective.

Here is the definition of that point-of-view and its advantages:

Third person limited could be perceived as being told from the viewpoint character. It can be used very objectively, showing what is actually happening without the filter of the protagonist's personality, which can allow the author to reveal information that the protagonist doesn't know or realize. (*as in the case here, where the protagonist does not know until the end what the consequences of his, and the town's, actions have been)

However, some authors use an even narrower and more subjective perspective, as though the viewpoint character were narrating the story; this is dramatically very similar to the first person, allowing in-depth revelation of the protagonist's personality, but uses third-person grammar. Some writers will shift perspective from one viewpoint character to another.


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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 2, 2007 at 3:52 AM (Answer #2)

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The point of view for this story is different than most, representing Faulkner's unique style of telling a story. It is told in first person, meaning the narrator is a character in the story, but we never know the narrator's name. He speaks for the community, and in that sense, he can be considered the main character. He shows sympathy for Emily, but he's also clever and humorous as he tells his story. He puts the pieces of the story together and brings it to a shocking climax. He also shows sympathy for the town of Jefferson and feels the people of the town are unable to control their reactions.

The story is told by the narrator through a series of flashbacks that cover almost fifty years. He flashes back and forth through the events in Emily's life and the town of Jefferson. These events are related, but we don't get the clues in the order that the events occurred. What does this add to the story? The last scene in the story is powerful and shocking. By telling it in this way, the impact on the reader is great. Stop and think how the story would have affected you if it had been told in the usual beginning-to-end style. This type of narration is one reason why Faulkner's work is still read today.

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