What are the narrator's biases in "A Rose for Emily"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator demonstrates negative and positive biases toward the title character.  First, he or she is obviously a regular participant in the gossip involving Miss Emily because the narrator presents not only detailed information about Miss Emily's history but also the opinions of the townspeople toward her. Similarly, the narrator's description of Miss Emily is hardly flattering.  He describes her as "fat" and corpselike.  While the description might be a frank one, someone who is truly concerned about another's feelings would find a more tactful way to describe that person.

The narrator also demonstrates a great deal of pity and sympathy for Miss Emily, and in that sense presents a more forgiving bias toward her. When Miss Emily shuts herself in the house with her father's body, the narrator admits that he and the town "did not say she was crazy then."  While the use of "then" implies that they do later think of her as crazy, in this paragraph, the narrator shows that he tries to understand Emily's eccentricities and realizes what a sheltered, confined life she has been forced to lead.

At the story's end, both biases are evident.  The narrator joins others in "invading" Miss Emily's long-held privacy after her death so that he or she can observe the spectacle of the deceased's room, but perhaps the narrator was also paying respect of sorts to the death of "tradition" in the town by going to Miss Emily's funeral and then to her house.

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A Rose for Emily

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