Is the narrator's opinion of Miss Emily influenced by his gender, class and race? If so, how?  

1 Answer | Add Yours

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The narrator of William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" is actually a composite of voices coming straight from the townspeople.

We are not able to ascertain whether this narrator is a man or a woman, nor whether the narrator is black, or white. However, given that Faulkner is a social observer we could argue that Miss Emily is, indeed, being analyzed by the townsfolk according to the social parameters that rule the city of Jefferson.

For example, the story tells of certain facts that sort of shocked the city regarding Miss Emily's behavior:

1. Her insistence that her family owes no taxes in the city and that her family still holds power in it, even after years have passed and her family is nearly extinct.

2. That she keeps a black man as a servant (as if she were recreating the Old South)

3. That her family is eccentric, how she was dominated by her father and, as a result, refused to give up his body for burial in a rebellious breakdown.

4. That she, in complete contrast to her previous behavior, opted to date and live with a man from the North who was, perhaps, even gay (although that latter fact is not important to the sum of the story)

5. That she caused commotion when she suddenly became a recluse after having given the idea that she was about to get married. That Homer Barron disappeared, her manservant ran away, and a foul smell began to come out of her eyesore of a home.

Basically these five points compose the tenets of what the townsfolk tell us in the story. Remember that they are telling us all these details because Miss Emily has just died and the horrid finding of Homer Barron's carcass makes them realize that Emily was sleeping with a dead body for an extended period of time.

Hence, in conclusion, we could argue that Emily is simply being judged according to what is expected from a former Southern "aristocrat" whose family ties to the city are strong enough to prompt the people to wonder about her. There is really no direct judgement of her as far as her gender nor race, in isolation. She is simply being analyzed as a woman who is eccentric and weird,and her entire town witnesses her behavior, and worries about it.

 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question