What are the elements of the point of view expressed in "A Rose for Emily"?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view in “A Rose for Emily” is unique. The story is told by an unnamed narrator in the first-person collective. One might even argue that the narrator is the main character. There are hints as to the age, race, gender, and class of the narrator, but an identity is never actually revealed. Regardless of identity, the narrator proves to be a clever, humorous, and sympathetic storyteller. He is clever because of the way he pieces the story together to build to a shocking climax. His humor is evident in his almost whimsical tone throughout what most would consider to be a morbid tale. Finally, the narrator is sympathetic to both Emily and the town of Jefferson. This is demonstrated in his pity for Emily and in his understanding that the town’s reactions are driven by circumstances beyond its control (‘‘Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town’’).

sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The effectiveness of this point of view can be valued by imagining what the story would be if some of it, at least, were told from Emily's point of view, or maybe from that of Homer, Toby, or one of the town elders.  While the point of view is collective, it is the narrator who makes it so by the insistence on "we," making me wonder at times just how many people in that town would buy into the generous view that "we" offers.  I doubt if some of the ladies of the town would speak so sympathetically of Emily, for given the gender roles even in the traditions of the post-civil war south contemporary to the narrative voice, if a Jefferson lady saw that body in Emily's bed, the sight would forever color her attitude toward the rather uppity Miss Emily. 

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A Rose for Emily

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