Homer Barron is the Yankee construction foreman who becomes Emily Grierson’s first real beau. His relationship with Emily is considered scandalous because he is a Northerner and because it doesn’t appear as if they will ever be married. In fact, it is known that he drinks with younger men in the Elks’ Club and he has remarked that he is not a marrying man. The lovers ignore the gossip of the town until Emily’s two female cousins from Alabama arrive. Homer leaves town for several days until the cousins go back to Alabama. Meanwhile, Emily purchases arsenic, a monogrammed toilet set with the initials H. B., and men’s clothing. Homer returns to Jefferson three days after Emily’s cousins leave, and he is seen entering her home. He is never seen (alive) again. However, what is presumably his corpse is discovered in a ghastly bridal suite on the top floor of the Grierson house after Emily’s funeral.
The druggist sells Emily arsenic while her two female cousins from Alabama are visiting her. Emily just stares at him when he tells her that the law requires her to tell him why she is buying it. He backs down without an answer and writes ‘‘for rats’’ on the box.
See Emily Grierson.
Emily’s cousins arrive after receiving a letter from the Baptist minister’s wife. Apparently, they visit to discourage Emily’s relationship with Homer Barron. Homer leaves while they are in town, and then returns after they have been gone for three days. The narrator, speaking for many in the town, hopes that Emily can rid herself of the cousins because they are ‘‘even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.”
Although there is only a brief description of Emily’s father in section two of the story, he plays an important role in the development of her character. Certainly Emily learns her genteel ways from him. It is his influence that deprives her of a husband when she is young; the narrator says that the town pictured Emily and her father as a ‘‘tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door.’’ Emily at first refuses to acknowledge his death. She doesn’t allow anyone to remove her father’s body; finally, after three days she breaks down and lets someone remove the cadaver. This foreshadows the town’s discovery of Homer Barron’s decomposed corpse on the top floor in Emily’s house after her death.
Emily Grierson, referred to as Miss Emily throughout the story, is the main character of ‘‘A Rose for Emily.’’ An unnamed narrator tells her strange story through a series of flashbacks. She is essentially the town eccentric. The narrator compares her to ‘‘an idol in a niche … dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.’’ Emily is born to a proud, aristocratic family sometime...
(The entire section is 1289 words.)