What are the reasons that motivated Emily to murder Homer in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner?

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

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"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner takes place in Jefferson, Mississippi.  The story spans the life [74 years] of the protagonist Miss Emily Grierson, a daughter of the "Old South." Told in first person, the narrator appears to be a citizen of the town who reports what he knows about her this unusual lady.

Emily's life was never normal.  Her father dominated her while she was a young woman.  He did not like any of her men friends and ran them off.  Providing nothing for Emily accept the house, her father left her penniless and without skills to make money.  Obviously, he was a selfish man who did not care whether his daughter found happiness.

Everyone knew Emily, but no one supported Emily.  They left her completely alone.  Possibly, it was because of her refusal to accept her father's death.  It had been rumored that there was insanity in Emily's family.  Maybe,  it was the smell around the house that kept people from involving themselves in her life.

Most of the time,  Emily handled everything by herself except for her Negro servant Tobe.  He seemed to do everything for her including assist in murder.

Homer Barron was Emily's last hope for happiness, or so she thought. Homer announced his homosexuality to the men and said he would never marry.  Strangley, he escorted Emily on
Sunday rides in the buggy.

Gossip spread throughout the town. "They will be married. He is using her. Her good name is ruined." The minister was sent to talk to her.  The cousins from Alabama came to help her with this problem.  Emily carried on by purchasing men toiletries and a nightshirt with HB embroidered on it. Oh, yes, she also purchased some arsenic but would not say why she wanted it.

Emily did commit homicide. Why did she murder Homer? These are the possibilities. 

Loneliness-Everyone wants companonship.  No one likes being alone all of the time.

Insanity-Emily lost her perspective of reality and romance. If he did not want to marry her, she would keep him for herself anyway she could.

Rejection-Homer may not have shared his sexual persuasion with Emily.  She may have felt that he just did not want her. Nothing hurts worse than when you love someone, and they do not love you back.

Anger-Emily may have thought: "He took me riding in my buggy. He promised me that he would stay with me in Jefferson.  Now, he wants to leave. No, I will have not it!"

Men Versus Women-Emily had always served her father.  She may have felt it was time for her to get what she wanted from a man.

Whatever was on Emily's mind, not even Tobe would share it with the townspeople.  He went out the back door and was never seen again, undoubtedly,  fearful for his part in the murder and deception.

The reader learns that the citizens already knew about the room upstairs.  If they did know, it would have made sense to go in  and take care of the problem. The citizens chose to let it go until Miss Emilly died and then the secret could be told. 


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