Is Faulkner's short story aptly titled "A Rose for Emily"?

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jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Faulkner always wrote about the burdens of previous generations. He uses a \"collective\" plural sense to the narration in this story, as if the town itself as a group is describing the rise and fall of her family. The \"Rose\" in the title seems to work as a funeral gift laid on her coffin. It is both a condemnation of her hideous hidden life and an affirmation that her life was the result of a legacy she could not escape.

She was a town oddity, an object of scorn and a feared rival to many in the town. The story is told in a fashion that allows for all of these perspectives. There is a sense of interpretation to this story. The reader gets the idea that her funeral would receive a required sense of respect. The whole town might line up to visit during the funeral, dropping a rose on the coffin as they feast on the gossip regarding her horrible secret.

sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I believe the title is very appropriate for the story.  From the title, readers are meant to sympathize with Emily.  She is a victim of her circumstances, and not a monster.  Although her attitude towards the town, her bizarre actions, and her act of murder would paint her in a poor light, Faulkner works hard to demonstrate that she has had an unfortunate upbringing.  He makes it clear that her father was domineering and, most likely, abusive; he also shows that the town makes little attempt to socialize with her, which keeps her isolated and lonely.

The "rose" for her is the one bit of kindness we see for Emily.  It is symbolic of her suffering and her perserverance.  It also symbolic of the sympathetic feeling of the townspeople, who are trapped by tradition in the way that they behave towards her.  The title allows readers to view the story as a personal tragedy, and not just a gothic horror.

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suzann1285's profile pic

suzann1285 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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It's interesting that rose is used as a color as well as a verb in the story, but not as an actual flower.  We often associate roses with love, which does relate to Emily's love of Homer--she keeps him as a girl often preserves her first flower from a beau.  I also think it relates to the townspeople's view of her.  Roses are often given to show respect and honor at funerals, and this story could be seen as the townspeople's "rose" for her at her death.

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