What are the main events in William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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There are several interesting incidents that shine a light into the otherwise obscure world of Emily Grierson in the story "A Rose for Emily".  It is best to focus on those events that directly contribute to moving the plot forward, culminating in the highly climactic ending that finally gives away the answer to the question of what was going on inside Emily's home, inside her head, and inside her heart.

The first event is the one that prompts the "conversation" among the townsfolk of Jefferson concerning Miss Emily: her funeral. It is this event that triggers the telling of her story, as it connects the entire town with a common preoccupation concerning their most eccentric inhabitant.

Since the story does not follow a linear narrative, let's put the events in order as they are told by the narrator.

The death of Emily's father starts the sequence of events, as it is obvious that Emily's profound attachment to her father,  and her overprotected childhood, leaves her lacking the social tools that she desperately needs to fit in her environment.

We learn that she refused to bury her father, and that the town had to intervene.  She also refuses to pay taxes, as she is still mentally stuck back in the times when her family was powerful enough to be exempt.

Meeting Homer Barron is the most pivotal event, as it shows that Emily has, in a way, broken away from herself and has attached to the real world. Of course, the townspeople were not happy with Homer, as is evident in the way he is described:

a Yankee—a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the riggers, and the riggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks.

Although the people were happy to see Emily with someone, they still felt that Homer fell way short compared to what Emily's father would have wanted for his daughter.

The time period when Homer leaves town and then returns marks the time when Emily is seen buying a wedding trousseau for a man and bathroom items. This is when everyone wonders whether there will be a wedding. Emily is also seen buying poison at the pharmacy. Shortly after, Homer enters Emily's house, but is never seen leaving.

Then comes the stench that starts reeking from Emily's house. This is not only significant as far as foreshadowing goes, but it also shows the feelings of the villagers toward Emily. Rather than letting the police get Emily for a potential sanitation issue, the people get together and dose Emily's yard with lime.

The final (and most important) event is Emily's death. She had already turned into a complete recluse, inciting all sorts of rumors around town. It is because of her death that a door finally opens in her property. It is then that the corpse of Homer Barron is discovered laying on Emily's bed.

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