Who is the narrator and what does he say about Emily in "A Rose for Emily"?

Expert Answers
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Faulkner's "A Rose For Emily," the narrator is unidentified, but he relates the story from the point of view of the townspeople.  He begins his story:

When Miss Emily died, our whole town went to her funeral:...

So we know he is a person from the town, since he uses "our." 

He tells us that Emily tried to keep her father's body in the home with her and did so for five days until she was somewhat forced to give it up.  He tells us she was courted by an outsider named Homer.  He tells us Emily bought rat poison.  He tells us that Homer disappeared, and then he tells us that after Emily died a skeleton was found in an upstairs bedroom of her home, as was a hair that matched Emily's, on a pillow beside the skeleton. 

He says many other things about Emily as well.  If you're looking for something other than what I've written, feel free to email me and I'll try to help.


epollock | Student

Everything we know of Emily is derived from the narrator, who does not identify himself even though he keeps his eyes and ears open for details about her. He speaks to people in the town who have made their own observations, and he acquires details rapidly and fully, as we learn from the scene between Emily and the druggist (paragraphs 34–42). Even though the narrator reports rumors and misapprehensions about Emily, it seems clear that Faulkner intends that these rumors and reports be taken as true details about Emily’s life. At the story’s conclusion the narrator has joined the group ("they") who break down the door to the upstairs room that had been Emily’s bedroom. It is then that the narrator uses "we" to indicate that he has been an actual first-hand observer of the scene of decay that the people discover on Emily’s bed.

mkcapen1 | Student

The narrator does not give his name in the short story "A Rose for Emily."  The reader knows that the narrator is a member of the town because in the beginning of the story the person states:

"When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral:"

The narrator tells the reader the story of a southern belle, who like her stately home has aged and fallen into disarray.  He describes Emily in the same manner as he describes the south whose old ways have passed on by time. 

Miss Emily is  a sad creature because she has not been able to adjust to the changes brought on by time.  She is a woman trapped in the past.  After her father dies she meets a man named Homer whom she desires to marry.  He leaves and is never seen again until his corpse is revealed in the end of the story.

Miss Emily is proud but no longer the stately woman that she once was.  She has become over weight through the years and her hair an iron gray.  For most of the story she is a sad and indignant creature whose egocentric behaviors are tolerated by the townspeople.  In the end the reader finds out that Miss Emily had the ability to commit murder and carry on her lie as though nothing had happened.