A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily book cover
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Who is Emily Grierson in "A Rose for Emily"?

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The enigmatic main character of William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" is a product of the Old South.

The townsfolk narrator tells that Emily is an old woman who lives alone in a house which is described as

an eyesore among eyesores.

Emily hardly ever leaves her home, and her looks are, according to witnesses, consistently deteriorating. As far as her temperament goes, it is clear that her reclusive nature has turned her eccentric, particularly in her overall inability of letting go of her Southern aristocratic past. She does this by refusing to pay taxes in the county of Jefferson, where she lives, because the first Colonel who led the town back when she was young had exempted her father from doing so. Yet, she still believes that the same rights will apply to her.

As a family member, we learn that Emily is an only child whose closest relatives are her female, meddling cousins. Emily has also been a proud and loyal daughter to her father who engulfed her life choices and decisions to the point of running off potential suitors, and separating her from the rest of the town. The result of this was that Emily developed a co-dependent relationship with her father and, after he died, she went as far as refusing to give up his body.

We learn that Emily may even have had artistic talents prior to her death. She kept a coal sketch of her father, gave art lessons for a while, and just like that, she disappeared from the public view.

As a woman, Emily Grierson found love in the person of Homer Barron; a drifter and a Yankee who came to Jefferson as part of a construction team. Younger than Emily, loud, rambunctious, and presumably even showing bisexual tendencies, Homer was not liked by the people of Jefferson, but was tolerated simply because he escorted the otherwise lonely Emily.

As a human being, Emily Grierson displayed the typical emotions of someone who fears loneliness terribly. In an erratic attempt to keep Homer, who left town apparently to never come back, Emily lures back and after poisoning him with arsenic, keeps his body in her bedroom until the day that she dies and is found by the townsfolk.

In all, Emily is a scared soul whose loneliness and co-dependent upbringing led her to remain socially unfit, and unable to make healthy human connections.

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