Suggested Essay Topics
1. In the first section of “A Rose for Emily,” Faulkner sets a particular tone. How would you describe that tone, and what are some of the techniques he uses to do it? How does his word choice, for instance, affect the tone? And how does the tone impact your reading of the story?
2. The date of Miss Emily’s death and the state or region in which the story is set are ever mentioned. However, Faulkner provides several hints in Section I for both the time and the setting of the story. Given what you have read so far, what is your best estimate of when this story takes place, and what region of the country is Jefferson located? Give reasons for your answers.
1. Two separate and unrelated issues of heredity/inheritance are raised in Section II. What are they, and what role do they play in the town’s perception of Miss Emily?
2. It becomes clear in Section II that Miss Emily may be suffering from some form of mental illness or psychological disorder. Do you think Miss Emily is mentally ill or psychologically disturbed? Why or why not?
1. Faulkner describes how boys would follow Homer Barron around town in order “to hear him cuss the niggers, and the niggers singing tin time to the rise and fall of picks.” Do you consider Faulkner’s use of the racial epithet “nigger,” as opposed to the terms “Negro” or “Black,” racist? Why does Faulkner use that term in this case? Why doesn’t he use that term when referring to Tobe, Emily’s manservant?
2. The older ladies in the town claim that “even grief could not cause a real lady to forget her noblesse oblige.…” What do they mean by this?
1. Faulkner makes a point of explaining how Miss Emily refused to let the post office place numbers on the side of her house. What is the purpose of this information? What role does this information play in the story?
2. The town seems to abhor the prospect of Miss Emily’s relationship to Homer Barron. Some members think it is a disgrace and a bad example to the young, while others are happy at her prospects of marriage. Explain why there are such differing opinions in the town.
1. The first paragraph of Section V describes how Tobe greets the ladies who are calling on the house after Miss Emily’s death, and then immediately disappears forever. Why do you think Tobe disappears? What effect do you think Faulkner is trying to create by opening the section like this?
2. Faulkner spends a fair amount of time describing the “very old men” at the funeral. Why does Faulkner do this? Do you think he’s only describing the “very old men,” or are the “very old men” representative of a larger issue or theme that the story addresses?