Why does "A Rose For Emily" seem better told from the unamed narrarator's point of view than if it were told from the point of view of Emily?Having a hard time understanding this question. It's for...

Why does "A Rose For Emily" seem better told from the unamed narrarator's point of view than if it were told from the point of view of Emily?

Having a hard time understanding this question. It's for a Comp 2 class and I have to write a two to three page, five paragraph essay on this exact question. Would love some help!Thank you for reading.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, multiple narrators are utilised in order to further the theme of Old South vs. New South.  Read as an allegory of the relations between the Old and the New South, the narrators--at any rate, the multiple voices of a narrator--who have known Emily for long, provide the reader with background information which illustrates the contrast between the ways of the generations of Emily's father and the younger generations as well as the intrusion of the North as represented by Homer Barron. 

With the point of view of the others rather Emily's, the mystery of the story is possible; the gossip of the townspeople about what goes on at Emily's house, the suspense of finding the grotesque ending to Emily's love affair.  In addition, the mystery of not knowing what Emily thinks and feels adds much to the gothic effect of Faulkner's classic story.


Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a quote from Robert Burns, which, translated into modern English, would be something like, "If only we could see ourselves as others see us."  To me, this is the crux of the reason the story cannot be told from Miss Emily's point of view. Miss Emily has no idea how peculiar she really is, and it is only through the narrator that we are able to see her clearly. Remember that in a small Southern town, the eccentricity of a member of the community, particularly a member of long standing from a wealthy family, was tolerated or overlooked.  So, as the narrator finds her behavior worthy of note, we begin to see that Miss Emily must be truly demented.  If the story were told from her point of view, we not only might not get the full flavor of her insanity, but also we might not get the truth! 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I really do not see how this story could have been told from Emily's point of view.  The reason for this is that it seems that much of the suspense would have been lost if it had been.

To me, the core of the story is the feeling that we do not know what has happened.  Why does it smell so bad?  What is going on in Emily's house?

If the story had been told from Emily's point of view, this mystery would have been lost.  It would have been very hard to build that sense of curiousity as to what had happened and what would happen.

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.

Faulkner makes Emily something of a mystery by the ways in which he always keeps her at a distance. No personal acquaintances are mentioned as sources of information. When she is seen, she seems intransigent and resolute, and she seems successfully to ignore the importunities of the townsfolk. Later, when she is together with Homer Barron, she is also seen at a distance. When the men sprinkle lime around her property and in the basement, she views them at a distance from an upstairs window. The narration of the story make the ending even more a surprise, definitely, even though the clues for the surprise have been carefully planted by Faulkner throughout the story.

The plot, of course, is gothic fiction: a decaying mansion, a mysteriously silent servant, a corpse, necrophilia. And one doesn’t want to discard the plot in a search for what it symbolizes, but it is also clear that the story is not only “about” Emily Grierson but also about the South’s pride in its past (including its Emily-like effort to hold on to what is dead) and the guilt as well as the grandeur of the past. Inevitably much emphasis of the story centers on Miss Emily’s character, but a proper emphasis of her character entails an understanding of the narrator. A first-person narrator, would make the Gothic nature less effective, interfere with the un-chronological plot, and make the ending less dramatic.

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A Rose for Emily

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