At the beginning of Part II of "A Rose for Emily", how long had Emily's father been dead?

4 Answers

mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This is one of those questions that can be answered by a close reading of the text.  In "A Rose for Emily" however, it is rather confusing because William Faulkner does mix the timeline up. He jumps all over the time spectrum to tell the story, and it isn't until the very end of the story that we have the entire picture.  At the beginning of section two, it states,

"So she vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.   That was two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believe would marry her-had deserted her."

So, at the VERY beginning of section two, her father had been dead for 32 years; take the 30 years mentioned around the time of the smell, and the 2 years that are mentioned before even that.  So, when the taxmen visit her in section one, it is 32 years after Emily's father had died.  However, the smell arrived just 2 years after her father died, and just shortly after Homer Barron disappeared.  So, all of those numbers thrown in there in just two sentences sure makes you have to piece things out very carefully to figure out the exact timeline.  I hope that helped; good luck!