How would you write about point of view in "A Rose for Emily"?

Asked on by shameka2

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The point of view in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is the point of view of the townspeople.  I think of it as one narrator representing the town; or one narrator relating the information as townspeople experienced or witnessed the incidents; or, possibly, one narrator relating the information as the townspeople have related the incidents to him.   The enotes editor mstultz72 a few days ago wrote that the narrator is the collective "we" of the town itself, though, and that certainly could be accurate.

Whoever the narrator is, though, the narration is written from the town's point of view and achieves the surprise ending by rearranging the incidents and not revealing them in chronological order.  Try writing out the major plot points in chronological order, and you'll see how obvious it is that Emily poisons Homer. 

Only what townspeople could have seen or heard is related.  The narrator is on the outside of the action, looking in, so to speak.  It is this narration that enables Faulkner to achieve his surprise ending.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The point of view in "A Rose for Emily" is first person, and the  nameless narrator feels he speaks for the town of Jefferson as he tells Emily's story. The narrator tells us that Emily had always been "a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town." He expresses compassion for Emily as he tells her story, but he also tells her story so that the reader is shocked at the end of the story. Although there are several clues (foreshadowing) throughout the story, most readers are not prepared for the horrifying ending. I believe this is because the narrator is so clever and entertaining in his telling of the story. The narrator's humorous tone misleads the readers purposely so we are mortified when the two skeletons are found after Emily's death.

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