What are some different interpretations of the word Rose in the title of "A Rose for Emily"?What are some different interpretations of the word Rose in the title of "A Rose for Emily"?

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lsumner's profile pic

lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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I've always heard the phrase which states, "Give me my roses while I live." I believe this statement means honor me while I am alive. Giving a rose can be a sign of honor. When Emily dies, she is honored with flowers. She lived her life without honor and acceptance. When she dies, she if finally honored and accepted and so the story is told in her memory.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is such a strange story that the rose sometimes is overshadowed by the last few lines of the story, and it happens every time I read it.

Miss Emily has not had a great life...one might think throughout the story. As far as the townspeople are concerned, she was controlled by her father and abandoned by Homer Barron. Roses are so often associated with love, that it seems a creepy reminder that as far as Miss Emily is concerned, she was not jilted. In fact, she "spent the rest of her life with the man she chose." In this case, the rose may be a reminder to the reader that she was not abandoned, that there was a rose for even her. However, I usually imagine a red rose. Today I wonder if the rose was dried up, pale and brittle. Love this story.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Roses of different colors symbolize different emotions.  Thus without indicating the color of the rose, Faulkner may have used this symbol of love for a myriad of emotions, but all are tied to death as Emily's rose is given its most significant meaning at the story's macabre conclusion.

Faulkner himself stated that his title was meant to suggest that one gives a rose to such a woman who has suffered as Emily has.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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The rose is also significant in its nature. Most roses are strikingly beautiful, but they are not hardy flowers. Hence the expression "the bloom is off the rose." Emily was a "flower" whose bloom was lost. In addition, while roses are beautiful flowers, they do have thorns that can tear at the flesh. Emily, in her time, was beautiful, but she grew up with so much baggage, that her "thorns" would no doubt have caused problems for anyone who become involved with her.

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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I get the sense in "A Rose for Emily" that Miss Emily's father does not find the men in town suitable for Emily. It may be a control issue whereas he is trying to manipulate her life, removing the choice from her hands. It may be because his is "Old South" and truly believes only someone extraordinary would do as a spouse. Perhaps he believes there is something a little "off" about his daughter.

When Emily starts to date Homer Baron, it's almost like she is rebelling. However, there are never any suitors after Homer because, as we find out later, he's the only one for her: and she has kept him (dead) in her home all these years.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is interesting for us that the rose symbolises love and honour, but are also commonly used in funerals. The emphasis on the rose in the title therefore effectively emphasises the twin focus in this story on love and morbid tragedy as we are presented at the end of the story with Miss Emily's grim outcome of her love, and the way that she was compelled to poison her love in order to preserve both it and him. The indication that we are given that she slept every night next to the corpse of her lover reinforces the way that Miss Emily was not really part of the community and how she remained isolated and separate.

However, at the same time, there is a sense of something more in the title. "A Rose for Emily" sounds almost as if Faulkner is offering this "rose," or the story, as a token of remembrance for Miss Emily and the chivalrous, anachronistic values of the former South that have now, like Miss Emily, disappeared and vanished. Horrid and Gothic as the tale is, there is a real sense of loss and lament for the world in which Miss Emily dwelt and the values and customs that have now long vanished.

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dederoan1 | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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The rose in "A Rose for Emily" by Faulkner can be interpreted in various ways. I see it as a rose is so beautiful and represents tradition and history, as Emily had represented a Southern Belle in a world that was changing after the Civil War. The rose as Emily also has prickly thorns that can be treacherous. As in the story the thorns of the rose represent her anger and resentment about a society which was disappearing. As in the prickly thorns of the rose she murdered Homer Baron in the story.

yuqinglisa's profile pic

yuqinglisa | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Rose is supposed to be a token of romance and passion, which Miss Emily was deprived of by the anachronistic values of the former South. As Faulkner devoted a rose to her, he was trying to offer the thing missed in her rigid life.

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