What is the chronological order of events in the story "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"A Rose for Emily”--One of the interesting aspects of this clever, macabre story is its fractured time frame.  William Faulkner’s story requires looking at each section of the story to establish the chronological order.  Unlike other authors, Faulkner sets the beginning of the story with the funeral of the main character, Miss Emily Grierson, the town recluse/celebrity.

Only a few specific dates are mentioned in the story, but a close reading makes it possible to assign certain sequential events. We know, for example, that Colonel Sartoris remits Miss Emily's taxes in 1894, and that he has been dead for at least ten years when she confronts the new aldermen. Likewise, we know that she dies at the age of 74. When she was forty, she gave China painting lessons to the children. From these clues, the reader can set a framework for the story.

What  happened and when?

Section 11

  • Miss Emily’s father dies.
  • Her fiancé deserts her.

Section III

  • Homer Barron comes to town.
  • He squires Miss Emily around  town in a buggy.

Section IV

  •  Rumors fly about Miss Emily and Homer and them acting disgracefully.
  • The Baptist Minister comes to talk to Miss Emily.
  • The cousins come to save her from Homer.
  • She buys a man's silver toilet set — a mirror, brush, and comb — and men's clothing.
  • Miss Emily buys arsenic.
  • Homer Barron disappears.

Section II

  • The neighbors complain of a smell.
  • The town men place lime around Miss Emily’s house to stop the odor.

Section IV

  • Miss Emily does not go out of the house anymore.
  • Miss Emily dies at the age of 74.

Section I

  • The cousins have Emily’s funeral two days after she dies.

 Section V

  • The town's people come to snoop around in Miss Emily’s house after her funeral.
  • The black servant lets the people in and disappears out the back door.
  • The men break down the door and discover a skeleton dressed in a nightshirt lying in the bed.
  • One grey hair is found on the pillow.

What an intriguing story to read and read again so that the reader can be sure that he has not missed any of Faulkner's hints at the surprise ending of the story. 




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A Rose for Emily

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