In the story "A Rose for Emily," what is the logic of the story's division?"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his essay, "Another Flower for Faulkner's Bouquet: Theme and Structure in 'A Rose for Emily'," William V. Davis, writes,

Almost all of Faulkner's stories and novels can be better appreciated and more accurately understood and interpreted through a detailing of the interrelationships of time and structure. In Faulkner's world theme exists as the hyphen in the compound temporal-structure. Not the least of such cases is ‘‘A Rose for Emily.’’

With Emily Grierson, as for many other characters of Faulkner, the memory of the past is a powerful part of any present moment. Thus, the narrators of Faulkner's story return the reader to the past in order to illustrate and explain Miss Emily's character. For, it is in death that Miss Emily is presented to the reader as a "fallen monument" that in life "had been a tradition, a duty, and a care."  The tradition of the Old South is what has haunted Emily, a death that burdens her personality with its "imperious" demands upon her as a traditional figure of the community along with the death of her father which has formed her "inescapable" and "perverse" personality. 

This all-important interrelationship of time in the understanding of Emily Grierson's personality is what explicates her character, described by the narrators as "dear, inescapable, imperious, tranquil, and perverse."  Raised in the environ of the death of the South, living under the patariarchal influence of her dead father, Emily, having lived with death all her life, becomes enamored of death and, therefore, "perverse," she weds death as she lies with the cadaver of Homer Barron.

 

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