Why is the story titled "A Rose for Emily"?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There have been many questions about the title of this short story. What does it mean? What is the rose? What does it symbolize? Where is the rose in the story?

I did a little searching and was able to find a reproduction of the transcript of a series of interviews William Faulkner gave to students at the University of Virginia, where he was writer-in-residence 1957-1958. These interviews were collected and published as Faulkner in the University in 1959 (reprinted in the book Literature and Its Writers). In this interview, he is asked the very question "What does the title mean?" His answer:

Oh, it's simply the poor woman had had no life at all.  Her father had kept her more or less locked up and then she had a lover who was about to quit her, she had to murder him.  It was just "A Rose for Emily"--that's all.

He went on to say that the title was "allegorical":

the meaning was, here was a woman who had had a tragedy, an irrevocable tragedy and nothing could be done about it, and I pitied her and this was a salute . . . to a woman you would hand a rose.

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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A Rose for Emily

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