In "A Rose for Emily," what is the connection between the title of the story and the content of the story?

Expert Answers
bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title of a story is never accidental. The author usually connects the title in some way to one of the literary elements, such as theme, setting, or symbolism. In this story, the rose is the biggest symbol of the story.

A rose stands for life, beauty, love, passion, and even death. Miss Emily lived a life that involved much death and denial, but she didn't have much love or passion. The rose is a tribute to her life and her death, also serving to symbolize Homer Barron's death. In the end, Homer was found all dried out and had been kept in Emily's room in the attic for her to cherish. The irony is that Emily's life wasn't beautiful at all, but a rose is one of nature's most beautiful creations.

This symbolism is shown in Miss Emily's loneliness and her inability to let go of the past. She needed to keep the past alive in order to feel less lonely. Not willing to let her father's body be taken shows this need because if she lets go of him, she is all alone. When she met Homer, she paraded him in public, and "she carried her head high enough even when we believed she had fallen." Emily's sad life is also shown by the death smells coming from her house, but the last scene tells it all. It is a tomb of her eternal loneliness. "A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bride."

sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What is also important about the title is that it is "A Rose for Emily," not "A Rose for Miss Emily." In other words, the title deliberately takes away from the character the word that, in the context of the story, suggests the town's respect for her, her ability to intimidate the town, as well as the traditions,now disappearing, that involve referring to a white woman with prestige in this way.  Taking away the "Miss" brings Emily down to a more human level: she is no longer a monument and symbol of the past; in her death, she becomes equal to everyone else--a fact of death that Faulkner frequently considers. When we die, markers of gender, race, wealth, and status no longer matter.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Keep in mind, too, that Faulkner may have titled this story as a way to pay homage and tribute to all that Miss Emily Grierson stood for in her life.  Think about it...SHE WON.  It is the eternal North vs. South and the South got the last laugh in this story.  Even though her victory is an ominous secret until after her death and her colored servant runs away allowing anyone and everyone entrance to the house, her victory is at last announced.  Homer may have broken her heart, and he may have even muddied Emily's fine reputation, but he did not live to brag about it.  The rose for Emily is a tip of the hat for her gumption and spunk for which southerners have often been celebrated.

superfishy95 | Student

Emily can be contrasted with the rose as they both in the end will decay. Emily is introduced with a oppressive father, she is upper class and the towns people feel as if the family were too upper class but none the less, noble. So she begins as a woman who has many suitors which can be compared to the beauty of the rose but as time proceeds, the flower rots and so does Emily. She becomes old, fat and is scrutinised by the women for taking Sunday rides with Homer. In the end both a rose and Emily will wilt and decay from their former perfect forms.

salam74 | Student

In my opinion the title means "applause for Emily" for what she did. Applause is an expression of approval. An approval from the town. "A Rose" is a present/gift for her. She got rid of Homer and their relationship. Nobody will complain and gossip about their relationship. In the story, it appeared that Homer left her but she never let that happen. 


maschore | Student

The story begines with cinematography of long shut and gives a total picture of outsiders role but gradually closes the shutter of the camera and gives us a closeup of Miss Emily therefor the reader can easily come up to conclusion that the importance of story is more about character.Also Miss Emily wantes to freeze and stop the time to show her love for ever. So the title is symbolic, the symbol as a respect and love.

mony0117 | Student

I just read the story and at first, i myself was a little confused in reference to the tittle. I am nobody to disagree with a teacher BUT if we realy analize the whole story Ms. Emily was a virgin. We know this because it says in the story that her father would chase away any man that would come, correct? Once Homer came into her, life what the town people murmurred was that ms. Emily was sleeping with him, thats why they called in the two cusins. Homer was her first man, therefore she lost her virginity to him,and as we women know most of the time if your a virgin and you have sex, you bleed! In my opinion thats what the rose symbolises all the blood that has been shed in that house.Not only by the death of her father and Homer, but by Mrs. Emily herself.

crshipe | Student

The rose can symbolize the final display of respect for the dead, which is flowers at the funeral. We as the reader are to assume that the townspeople would have gone to her funeral in the end; in doing so they would be placing flowers on the grave/coffin as their final goodbye and display of affection/respect for Miss Emily. "A Rose for Emily" symbolizes the town respecting and acknowledging who she was and what she stood for in that town.  I agree with the others on this page that have posted about Faulkner's appreciation of equality in death. 

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A Rose for Emily

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