Ordering "A Rose for Emily"How would you put the sections into chronological order starting with past and ending with death? Why did Faulkner put them out of order?

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it would ruin the story to try to rearrange the paragraphs into chronological order. You would lose the element of storytelling; as it stands, it is as if you are listening to the narrator tell you the story of Miss Emily, remembering more details as the story develops. You would also lose some of the suspense and all of the foreshadowing that builds as the story progresses. As the eNotes study guide says:

Each episode in the life of Emily and the history of Jefferson is obviously interconnected, yet the clues aren’t given in chronological order. Thus, the final scene is powerful because the narrator does not tell the story in a straightforward, beginning-to-end fashion. This is why the story is even more entertaining and enlightening when read for the second time.

If I were forced to impose a chronological order onto the story, I would place the second paragraph at the very beginning and then number the other paragraphs in order of events after it. The story is too long and there is not enough space for me to try to reorder the paragraphs for you here.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Have you ever seen the movie Pulp Fiction? (Or any really good "Who Done It" kind of mystery/crime solving show?) Do you think that story would be better told in chronological order?  Probably not.  Good story telling requires some filling in of background information (flashback) and sometimes a look into the future (flash forward) in order to adequately create suspense and to whammy the reader with a surprise ending.  Reading carefully, readers of Emily's story can predict the ending, but usually the iron-gray hair on the pillow next to Homer Baron's skeleton is a huge surprise and so very cool. 

Putting this story in chronological order would make it much more tedious to read and not as much fun in the end.  It is harder to build that curiosity and hit us with a trick turn of events.

Read the study guide:
A Rose for Emily

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question