About how many years did Miss Emily stay in her house?  

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The progress of Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is not linear, making it difficult to follow the chronology of events. However, enough clues are given to decipher Emily's age at her death even though it is not stated directly. Emily was about 30 years old when her father died, which was old enough to be considered a spinster in those days. However, "the summer after her father's death" she begins dating Homer Barron, and the townspeople assume they will marry. Then about two years after her father's death, there is a horrible smell around Emily's home that the leaders of the town rectify by putting lime around outside. This corresponds to the murder of Homer Barron, though no one knows it. After that, Emily barely leaves her home, but for some years when she is about 40 years old she gives china-painting lessons in her home. When the new generation of town leadership comes to call on Emily to get her to pay her property taxes, she must be about 60 years old. Then, "daily, monthly, yearly" the townspeople observe her silent home with barely a sight of the mysterious old woman.

Finally she dies in her home, probably around age 72. This can be calculated by the comment that "there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years." When the townspeople open the room, they find the corpse of Homer Barron, which has been there since Emily poisoned him when she was about 32 years old. This shows that after Emily's father's death, she lived in the house about 42 years, and that she lived there for 72 years in all. 

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A Rose for Emily

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