Pick only 3 of the following elements and provide an example of it from the story "A Rose for Emily."

  • Crime/violence
  • Suspense
  • Imprisonment (not necessarily physical)
  • Decay/destitution
  • Unusual/abnormal event that is shocking and gruesome.
  • Sense of place
  • Expert Answers

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    For #1, it becomes clear at the end of the story that Miss Emily Grierson has committed a crime. After forty years of being off-limits, Miss Emily's bedroom is opened up after her death. After her funeral, the door is forced open, and the decayed corpse of her former lover, Homer Barron, is found lying on the bed. We learned, some time earlier, that Miss Emily had purchased arsenic, supposedly to poison rats (although her behavior at the time had been somewhat suspicious). It now seems that she used the poison on Homer Barron in order to prevent him from leaving her.

    For #2, suspense is created by the story of the horrific smell that begins to emanate from Miss Emily's property shortly after she poisoned Homer but long before anyone outside her home became aware of the fact. The smell is so atrocious that a great many people complain to the town leadership and a small group of men eventually sneak onto her property at night to sprinkle lime in an effort to reduce the offensive odor. What could possible be causing this scent? It is offensive enough that it disturbs a great number of people.

    For #4, there is some description of decay and destitution early in the story. The narrator describes Miss Emily's home as having "once been white" and says that, as

    garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores.

    The house has decayed and fallen into disrepair, just as the traditions and values of the Old South have done.

    For #5, one shocking and gruesome event occurs after Miss Emily's father's death. Days afterward, a number of ladies went to call on her and offer condolences, but Miss Emily met them "dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face." She claimed that her father was still alive, and she maintained this story for three days. Thus, her father's body was left to rot in their home for days before it could be buried, which is pretty gruesome, and Miss Emily's refusal to accept his death is certainly shocking. Another such event is when the townspeople find one of her long, steel-colored hairs on the pillow next to Homer Barron's desiccated corpse; she has, evidently, been lying in bed with his body at night. Both shocking and gruesome, indeed!

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