What are some thesis statements for A Rose for Emily?

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lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to write good literary thesis statements, you need to consider two things: what choices does an author make, and how do those choices contribute to the meaning of the work.  Choices worth consideration in this novel include: the stream-of-consciousness narrator, by a third person narrator, who is of a younger generation of townspeople in comparison to Miss Emily; the five section structural divisions; the symbolism of things such as the house, her watch, and the sidewalks and house numbers, characterization of Miss Emily, her father, and Homer; the title of the story; selection of detail; and other figurative language.

Next you need to consider Faulkner's themes.  The story is about love and unrequited love, decay and death, murder, the generation gap, the history of the South, loneliness and isolation.

In order to write the thesis statement you need to think about what Faulkner is trying to say about the theme.  What is he saying about love?  The story illustrates the extremes that someone may be driven to in the face of the "loveless" life that Miss Emily's father created for her by driving all of her potential suitors.  What is Faulkner saying about the generation gap?  Miss Emily represents the standards and attitudes of the old south, and her inability to accept the changes of the new generation, leaving her even more isolated than ever.  Your essay would then discuss the specific literary choices that Faulkner makes to bring the theme to life.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A thesis statement is a concise sentence or couple of sentences summarizing the main argument you are making in a paper. Before you develop a "thesis statement," you need a central argument. What sort of argument is appropriate to your paper depends on whether it is for an introductory literature survey, an advanced undergraduate course, or a graduate seminar.

For an introductory survey, the main point of your paper will be to show that you read and understood the story and thus you could make a simple claim to the effect that "Miss Emily" herself represents the Old South and the way it has decayed, as she herself evolves from a beautiful young women to a an eccentric and unattractive older women.

At a more advanced level, you should acquaint yourself with some of the vast body of criticism that has been written about the story and situate yourself within a specific critical school or context. For example, you could take a feminist approach arguing that Miss Emily is a subversive heroine or look at the way class structures limit the freedom of not only Miss Emily and her servant but other people of the town.

At the graduate level, you need to survey the existing criticism and either add to it or disagree with some aspect of it. This might mean focusing on a very narrow topic, such as the use of architectural detail or the significance of Miss Emily's refusal to have numbers affixed to her house. 

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might argue that Emily Grierson's fear of being abandoned and left alone (after her father drives away her suitors) compels her to hold on to her father's dead body after he perishes and murder her lover, Homer Barron, rather than risk his leaving her.  

You might instead argue that the story of Emily Grierson conveys the importance, even the necessity, of letting go: of the traditions of the Old South, of relationships that are no longer viable, of our old concepts of ourselves.  

Or, you could argue that William Faulker foreshadows the ending of Emily Grierson's story with the description of the horrible smell that once emanated from her property, a smell so bad that the Board of Aldermen sprinkled lime around her house to banish it, as well as Miss Emily's purchase of rat poison and her reluctance to admit what she planned to use it for, and, finally, with her attempt to hold on to her father's dead body even days after he had passed away.

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A Rose for Emily

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