How would you characterize the narrator's relationship with the reader in "A Rose for Emily"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The narration in “A Rose for Emily” is first person using “we,” but we never really know much about the narrator.

The story begins with a description of Emily’s funeral.

When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole towns went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house…

After getting our attention, the narrator goes on to tell us about Emily’s life, and why she was a “monument.”  The narrator jumps around, topically and chronologically.  The reader never really knows who this “we” is, and it is almost as if the town is narrating the story. 

Normally in first person narration there is little distance between the narrator and the reader.  It is if the narrator is talking directly to the reader in a conversation.  However, we never really can get close to the narrator, because he or she keeps out of the story.  We never know exactly who this person is, so even though the story is told in the first person, there is a distance from the narrator.  Since the narrator is also telling the town’s story, or Emily’s story, we are even more distanced from the narrator.  The use of “we” distances the narrator from us even more.

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