How does the author use plot to create interest and suspense in "A Rose for Emily?"

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Interest and suspense are created in "A Rose for Emily" by predicting the death of the main character in the opening section of the story. This method of story-telling is commonly used in film as well as literature. 

By presenting the result of the narrative at the beginning of the story, the writer gives the audience a specific event to anticipate. In the case of this story, the anticipated event is Miss Emily's death. The question that the audience (reader) will naturally ask while reading the story is, "How will Miss Emily die?"

...foreshadowing creates expectation for action that has not yet happened. 

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jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Faulkner creates a sequence of events that build suspense in "A Rose for Emily." He starts with her death, which creates the idea that she is nothing more than a decayed monument to the past. The men in the town attend her funeral only to pay respect to her and her family's august past as a "fallen monument," and the women in the town attend her funeral only to see her house, which has been closed for several years.

However, as Faulkner relates more and more events about Miss Emily, she is presented as a woman engaged in suspicious activities. He dangles these seemingly unconnected events before the reader without resolving them until the end. First, Faulkner relates that a terrible odor developed around her house, which the town leaders resolved by sprinkling lime around her basement. Then, Faulkner relates her denial that her father died, followed by her strange courtship with Homer Barron, a visitor to the town, and his subsequent disappearance. Then, the reader learns that Miss Emily purchased arsenic from the druggist, which people thought she might use to kill herself after Homer deserted her. In the end, the townspeople and the reader discover the key to understanding the series of mysteries and strange incidents that Faulkner has presented in piecemeal fashion throughout the story—Emily has poisoned her lover and left his body to rot on her bed. 

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