A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why did so many people show up to Emily Grierson's funeral?

The narrator of "A Rose for Emily" says that the men came to Emily's funeral out of respectful affection and that the women came out of curiosity to see the house. However, both motives seem to have impelled everyone. Emily was a universal object of curiosity and subject for gossip in Jefferson.

Expert Answers info

Colin Cavendish-Jones, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor, Lawyer

bookM.A. from Oxford University

bookPh.D. from St. Andrews University

calendarEducator since 2019

write3,060 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In the first sentence of "A Rose for Emily," Faulkner's unnamed narrator says that everyone in Jefferson came to Emily's funeral and makes a distinction between the reasons the men and the women had for doing so: "the men [came] through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house."

This distinction, which represents the men as having a more high-minded and disinterested motive than the women, is typical of the sardonic manner in which the story is told and is clearly not intended to be definitive. Everyone in town is curious about Emily, and she is a popular subject for speculative gossip. Her aloofness and unapproachability create a mystique about her and have done so for her whole life.

By the time she dies, Emily has become an object of universal fascination as a relic of a past age. The anecdotes about her, such as the way in which the new Board of Aldermen tried and failed to force her to pay taxes, have only increased the general level of curiosity. Emily's house, with its strange, gothic, out-of-date design, is not only an object of curiosity to the women. The glimpses of Emily's life the townspeople are given suggest that it contains all sorts of secrets—though few of the townspeople could have expected anything quite so gruesome as what they actually find.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial