How does the first-person plural narrator affect your understanding of "A Rose for Emily"?

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Faulkner's use of first-person plural narration creates a certain distance between Emily Grierson's character and the reader, which heightens her mysterious nature, conceals the shocking ending, and establishes a juxtaposition between the traditional protagonist of the Old South and the newer generation of Jeffersonians. The unnamed narrator serves as the town of Jefferson's collective voice and anachronistically tells the tragic story of the formerly revered Emily Grierson. The townspeople view Emily with a sort of detached affection and curiosity throughout the story, offering subtle criticisms of her behavior while simultaneously reserving judgment on her rather horrific crime. The townspeople object to Emily's decision to date Homer Barron, complain about the smell coming from her yard, and resent that she refuses to pay her taxes. Despite her questionable life choices, the citizens view her with reverence and describe Emily as "a tradition, a duty, and a care" at the beginning of the story. Emily's reclusive and odd behavior sparks the community's interest as they wonder about her mental state. The townspeople's complex emotions toward Emily Grierson corresponds to how the newer generation of Southerners perceives their past. Similiar to how the newer generation of Jeffersonians has complex feelings regarding Emily's unfortunate life, the citizens of the New South share similar mix emotions about their Confederate past. Also, the distance Faulkner creates between the narrator and the reader builds suspense, which would have been more difficult using an omniscient or first-person narrator.

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One of the primary conflicts in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner is between the present and the past. The past, of course, is represented by Miss Emily and her father. He raised her in the traditions and values of the Old South, and Miss Emily never really deviated from them, except for her affair with Homer Barron. She lived in the same way and in the same decaying house until she died, despite the fact that the world around her changed drastically.

The present is represented by the townspeople. They are the "we" to whom the narrator (presumably a citizen of the town) refers. Faulkner uses the plural here because it serves as a reminder that everyone else has changed and evolved with the times--everyone except for Miss Emily, of course.

The relationship between the people of the town and Miss Emily is also clear from the beginning:

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town....

Again, the relationship between Miss Emily and the town (the plural "we" to which the narrator refers) is adversarial, and this relationship shows in many ways, including the use of "we" versus "she."

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