Give the climax from the story "A Rose for Emily." Support your answer with examples from the story.

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"A Rose for Emily" is not told in chronological order, so the climax of the story isn't placed on the page where most readers would expect it to be.  The climax of the story is the final lines of the story.  

Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.

It's at this moment when most of my students all of a sudden say something like, "Wait. What? Oh that's so messed up!"  Faulkner chooses to end his story with its ultimate climax.  Readers figure out exactly what all of those other small details were leading up to.  Readers are told in section four that Emily buys enough arsenic to kill an elephant, but she refuses to say why she needs the poison.  We are told that shortly after buying the poison, Homer disappears and is never seen again.  In section two, readers are told that the awful smell developed shortly after Homer's disappearance.  In a different part of the story, we are told that Emily didn't willingly give up her father's dead body, so we know that she has a history of keeping a dead body in her house.  All of those pieces of information serve as foreshadowing and rising action.  They all lead up to the climactic moment when readers are told that Emily kept Homer's body in her bed for years and slept next to it.