A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily book cover
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What caused Emliy's Tragedy?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Without a doubt, Emily suffered from loneliness, and her father’s restrictions on her life helped cause this.  These restrictions, however, were part of the ideologies of the traditional south that gave white men power over white women and all blacks, and indeed her father was a powerful man.  The narrator describes Emily’s relationship to him through a very strong image:  “We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.”  She is described as being very vulnerable and feminine yet privileged by virtue of her class, while he, holding his horsewhip, his legs spread wide in a posture of command, appears almost sadistic in comparison.  It is for this reason—the traditions of gender roles and racism of the old south—that Faulkner takes away the Miss from her name at the end of the story. In doing so, he frees her from the past, giving her a modicum of respect and power in her death.

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Emily is so sheltered by her father that she becomes a lonely girl who turns into a lonely woman. After his death, Emily is alone, left without any money from her father and no one to share her life with. She won't allow anyone to take her father's body from the house at first because she can't stand the thought of having no one in her life. She mostly shuts herself off from the town, living a lonely life in the house she shared with her father. When she meets Homer Barron, she parades him in front of the town, causing the women to gossip about her. When she dies, and Homer's body is found alongside a strand of gray hair, we know that she killed him. Perhaps he had threatened to leave her, and she couldn't bear being alone again. By killing him, he stays with her forever.

Emily shows us how important it is to have family and friends who care about us. The older she got, the more she lived in the past. The smells that come from her house represent her sad, lonely life. The rose symbolizes her life and death and also the death of Homer. He's found all dried out and preserved in the room in the attic.

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ngarcia4 | Student

Her father did. He caused her to be lonely because he literally drove all the men out of her life, as she did as well. He treated her like a mother figure rather than a father figure, and she became obsessed with him. The body that they took out of the house was HOMER not her father. The smell that is coming from the house is the smell of her dead fathers body decaying in the attic. The body they find upstairs is her fathers and the strand of hair next to him represents that she has been having sex with her dead father. Basically she killed Homer so that they could take a body out of the home and assume it was her fathers. Lastly, she chose homer because he was a yankee. hinting at that he was from the North and since they are in the south nobody would notice that he went missing. Also the last part of the story it says The man HIMSELF lay in the bed shows us that it is her father rather than homer.