What is a quote from "A Rose For Emily" that shows the complexities of love?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"A Rose for Emily" is a short story by William Faulkner, published in 1930. The story is famous for its examination of love and mental illness, as well as its twist ending.

Perhaps the most important quote regarding love in the story is this:

When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, "She will marry him." Then we said, "She will persuade him yet," because Homer himself had remarked -- he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks' Club -- that he was not a marrying man. Later we said, "Poor Emily" behind the jalousies as they passed on Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.
(Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily," xroads.virginia.edu)

Homer Barron is implied to be homosexual, or at least bisexual, and so his relationship with Emily is unusual especially for the day. If she was committed to his love, the townsfolk guess that she will "persuade" him through sex to become her husband. However, despite gossip and presumably Barron's reluctance to commit, they continue to be seen in public; it is possible that Emily simply did not want to be embarrassed by his absence, and yet Barron seems perfectly happy to keep her company, "his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth." If so, Emily kept her dignity by not allowing Barron to leave; when he finally does leave with his construction crew, she takes steps to keep him in her life. At that point, any semblance of love as it is commonly defined has probably been overpowered by obsession, as if his simple presence will prevent gossip; of course, nobody in the town knows he is still there....

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A Rose for Emily

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