What is the role of symbolism in “A Rose for Emily”? Research to identify some of the main symbols.

  • Create a chart that details/explains five or more symbols in this short story. The chart should list the symbol, quote a sentence or two where the symbol is mentioned, and explore what you think the symbol means. Here is an example of the set-up for the chart. Note the three criteria you need in your chart.
Symbol Text that references the symbol (a quote from the short story) What you think the symbol means (you can read commentaries and secondary criticism to help you with this column)


Expert Answers

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The main symbols in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" are:

  • Miss Emily (her name and reputation more so than herself)
  • The rose (what the town believes she is worthy of; how it fades)
  • Her house (its former grandeur and now dilapidation) and all its levels (outside vs. front door vs. parlor vs. upstairs)
  • The smell (that comes from her house)
  • Her father (his name, status, and his dead body)
  • Homer Baron (symbolic of the Northern carpetbagger; his dead body)
  • Emily's Negro servant (who knows the secret but runs away)
  • Emily's iron gray hair (that lay on the pillow beside Homer's skeleton)

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