A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily book cover
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In Faulkner's short story "A Rose For Emily," what could Miss Emily's ticking watch symbolize?

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In Faulkner's "A Rose For Emily," things are rarely as they seem. Time falls into this category because of its unusual presentation in the story's structure, and what it comes to symbolize in the story.

Miss Emily Grierson is something of a permanent fixture. To those residing in the same town, it seems that she has always been there. This makes sense in that most of her contemporaries have passed on well before she does. 

The reference to the watch may quite literally refer to the time that she is willing to allot to the men who come to her home to speak with her about her back taxes. The image created by "the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain" provides sensory details: it is gold, it has a long chain and it is ticking. However, the physical sense that the detail impacts more than any other is that of sound. The watch can be heard in the complete silence in the room.

She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a...

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