Reassembling William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily," is no easy task since it is told in a manner that includes multiple shifts in time. Chronologically, we first hear of Emily in her 20s, "a slender figure" pictured with her father in a photograph. Emily's father died while she was in her 30s, and she refused to allow the body to be removed from the house for three days. "She was sick for a long time" after that, and when she next appeared her hair had been cut short. She met Homer Barron soon after. Their romance was a short one. Some of Emily's relatives visited to discuss her relationship with this Yankee working man. After the relatives left, Homer reappeared, but soon he was gone--but not before Emily had made an unusual purchase of rat poison. Not long after, a smell was noticed about the Grierson house, and some townspeople soon spread lime around the outer fringes of the home to eradicate the smell. Soon, it, too, was gone.
It was a long time before Emily was seen again, and her hair was turning gray. She gave china painting lessons for "six or seven years, when she was about forty." Soon after, she was greeted by a delegation to inquire about her taxes, which she refused to pay. After the children stopped coming for the painting lessons, Emily was rarely visible. Only her manservant, Tobe, was seen, except for an occasional glimpse of her sitting in a downstairs chair. She died at the age of 74.
Following her death, Tobe disappeared. The funeral was held "on the second day" afterward and was attended by several of her cousins and men in Confederate uniforms. After Emily "was decently in the ground," a group of men arrived to inspect the old house. They found the upstairs bedroom locked. When they broke the door down, they found the skeletal remains of a man in the bed with a yellowed pillow beside his skull: It had the indentation of a head and on it lay a single iron-gray hair.