In "A Rose for Emily," how does the ending change your attitude toward Emily?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before the ending, Emily was just a sad, lonely, kooky, and a bit eccentric old lady that was easy to pity.  Poor Emily--her father, who was her world, died.  She had a hard time letting go of him; her entire world was shattered.  That is understandable, right?  Poor girl!  And then, her stubborn clinging to the past--very sad, indeed. She was weird, she was old-fashioned, she was stubborn.  She was slightly pathetic and made of the material that one feels bad for, and awes at a bit, as a curiosity.  And it stopped there.

Then, enter the ending.  Things changed for me a bit, I don't know about you.  All of a sudden, she went from weird to downright creepy.  She went from stubborn to murderously indignant about getting her own way. She went from lonely to deranged.  She went from a bit kooky to mentally disturbed.  I was disgusted, horrified and shocked.  Despite all of this, if you look at her circumstances, and take a more sympathetic approach, pity can still play a role, to a certain extent, depending on your own inclinations.  Did you still pity her?  Did you feel that her circumstances drove her to such horrific actions?  If you answer yes, in any form, then there has to be some room for understanding, or pity.  I'm a bit more hard on her than that though; murder is hard to justify, unless she is seriously mentally disturbed.  And if she was, then my opinion changed from her being eccentric to being sick and in dire need of mental care.

I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

mkcapen1 | Student

In the short story "A Rose for Emily" the reader feels sorry for the aged southern belle who died lonely.  The reader identifies her as being confused about her status in life.  She was once held on a pedestal by her father and the community.  She felt the power her father possessed and lavished in the life style.  Upon the man's death she is left penniless and has the upkeep of the estate.

Miss Emily was very upset by her father's death.  She could not handle it at first and would not allow others to remove him from the house for burial. She spent many years aloe and withdrawn.

However, when the reader learns that Miss Emily took the life of Homer, which is inferred, the reader is confused at first.  There is some degree of pity that still exists until looking back in the story.  The story reveals how determined and selfishly she had purchased arsenic with the intent to end Homer's life.  When she went to the store she was not hesitant in the least.  She defined herself above the law and standards of other humans when she demanded the poison.

I believe the most common thought about Miss Emily is that she had descended into madness.  Although her actions of killing Homer were premeditated, sleeping next to a rotting corpse and a skeleton is not a pretty mentally unstable action.


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A Rose for Emily

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