In “A Rose For Emily,” William Faulkner imitates associative Southern storytelling style as an unnamed first-person narrator speaks for the entire town of Jefferson, relating what all the townspeople know or believe. Unlike typical Faulkner stories that employ multiple individual narrators, “A Rose for Emily” achieves the effect of multiple narrators by combining them into a single narrative voice, an unnamed (and not always consistent) narrator. First-person plural pronouns emphasize that this narrator represents the consciousness of the town. This style is similar to that used in Greek tragedy, wherein chorus and chorus leader provide the reader/audience with information, interpret the characters’ actions, and express public opinion; thus, the narrator in “A Rose for Emily,” whose age and gender are never identified, can be designated a choric character.
The narrative sequence in this story is not chronological; the reader learns Miss Emily’s history in much the same way a newcomer to Jefferson might hear about her history. As the story opens, Miss Emily apparently has just died, and the townspeople are discussing her strange and sad life. Faulkner relates various incidents in her life, but these incidents are related thematically, not chronologically. Faulkner builds suspense by imitating the southern storyteller’s style of describing people and events through situation-triggered memories; hence, the plot is associative rather than...
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