In "A Rose For Emily," what would be different if this story were told from Emily’s point of view instead of the third person point of view?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Among other remarks, the critic Frank A. Littler refers to Faulkner's story as "a meditation on allegory of the relations between North and South."  So, without the narrators of "A Rose for Emily," much of this background on Emily would be missing.  It is this history of the Grierson's and their house provided by the narrators that provides the contrast between the Old South and the New South with Emily as a relic of that former life.

Certainly, too, the chronology of the story would be altered if the narrative of the Faulkner's tale were told from first person point of view.  With the "we" group narrating and recalling in a natural way, the Gothic effect of the ending is much more effective, for the discovery of Emily's grey hair is, indeed, shocking.

Then, too, there is the abnormal behavior of Emily that, viewed by the narrators, leaves out information that lends some mystery to the story, making it more intriguing to the reader and leaving much of the "work" to the reader.

epollock | Student


The style of “A Rose for Emily” is unusually conventional for Faulkner. There are no elaborate periodic sentences or stream-of-consciousness narration. The simple and direct style reflects the particular speaker Faulkner chose to tell the story. The unnamed narrator is a townsman of Jefferson, Mississippi, who has for some years watched Emily Grierson with considerable interest but also respectful distance. He openly describes his perspective as average; he always uses we in the story, never I.

His tone and manner are informed but detached, and surprisingly cool given the horrific conclusion. He mixes his own observations with town gossip to provide a seeming reliable view of Jefferson’s opinion of Miss Emily. (The story would be radically different if it were told from Emily Grierson’s point of view.)

While the narrator notes and reports many things about Miss Emily’s history and personality, he is not the man to analyze or ponder their significance. The careful reader, however, soon understands several important factors affecting her. Miss Emily’s father has somehow kept her down—dominating her life and driving away suitors.

She also has difficulty accepting loss or change. She will not, for example, initially admit that her father has died or let the doctors or minister dispose of the body. Miss Emily seems starved for affection and emotionally desperate enough to risk censure from the town when she takes Homer Barron as her lover. At the end the reader also sees her determination in killing Barron, though her motives are open to question. Did she want to exact revenge for his apparent refusal to marry her? Or did she want to keep him with her forever?

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A Rose for Emily

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