What is the dominant atmosphere in "A Rose for Emily"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The general atmosphere of the story “A Rose for Emily” is pleasant indifference.

The narrator of the story describes the town’s attitude toward Miss Emily, the daughter of the town patriarch.  Although there is some general curiosity, the town really isn’t interested in her or sorry she died.  She is a recluse and an eccentric, and her behavior is generally selfish.

When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one…had seen in at least ten years.

This opening sentence demonstrates the no one really cared about Emily, and this is the general atmosphere throughout the story.  They are curious, and not mean-spirited, but generally indifferent.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The dominant atmosphere throughout the short story "A Rose for Emily" is one of curious melancholy. Emily Grierson is a mysterious individual who hails from a prestigious family and is considered a recluse. The story begins with Emily's funeral, and her sad story is told from the perspective of the town of Jefferson. The town reveals Emily's oppressive upbringing and hints at her mental disorder. The reader becomes curious as Faulkner reveals the terrible odor permeating from her home, Emily's purchase of arsenic, and Homer Barron's disappearance. These elements leave the reader in suspense and add to the story's curious atmosphere. Faulkner's short story is also full of Gothic elements that provide a melancholy atmosphere. Emily Grierson's life and death are tragic and fill the reader with sadness. 

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A Rose for Emily

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