A Rose for Emily Study Guide
A Rose for Emily: Chapter Summaries
A Rose for Emily: Themes
A Rose for Emily: Characters
A Rose for Emily: Analysis
A Rose for Emily: Critical Essays
A Rose for Emily: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
A Rose for Emily: Questions & Answers
A Rose for Emily: Introduction
A Rose for Emily: Biography of William Faulkner
Introduction to A Rose for Emily
William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” was published in the April 30th,1930, edition of Forum magazine. It was Faulkner’s first short story to be published in a notable periodical. Though it received minimal attention after its first publication, “A Rose For Emily” has become one of Faulkner’s most popular works. Faulkner won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949 and is now hailed as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. His works deal primarily with the cultural shifts that occurred in the post–Civil War South. “A Rose For Emily” is one of many of Faulkner’s works, such as Sartoris, to be set in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi.
“A Rose For Emily” uses a nonchronological structure to tell the story of Emily Grierson. Emily, a faded Southern belle, dies at the age of seventy-four after leading an isolated life. The curious townsfolk come together for her funeral and reflect on her history in Jefferson, Mississippi. Their recollections include the details of Emily’s scandalous relationship with a Northern laborer named Homer Barron. The narrator uses the collective pronoun “we” in order to give the sense that the entire town is reflecting on Emily’s life. The story is sometimes read as an allegory for the resistance of the Old South, as represented by Emily, to modernization, as represented by both Homer and the younger generations of Jefferson.
A Brief Biography of William Faulkner
William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897–1962) was a celebrated author and poet whose works were heavily inspired by the culture, society, and values of the American South. Faulkner was raised primarily in Oxford, Mississippi, and he took an early interest in the history of the region, due in part to the stories he grew up hearing about his own ancestors. Faulkner’s namesake, his grandfather William Clark Falkner, was a Colonel in the Confederate army, and tales of his escapades were particularly popular among his descendants. Indeed, a young Faulkner’s fascination with history was so strong that it impacted his schoolwork, and he never formally graduated from high school. However, he was an avid reader, as was encouraged by his mother, grandmother, and nanny, all of whom also contributed to Faulkner’s interest in exploring gender, sexuality, and race in his fiction. Many of his works are set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, a Southern setting that closely resembles the real-world Lafayette county and its struggles with race, gender, and social stratification in the Antebellum period.
Faulkner’s early efforts in literature were not met with immediate success. His individualistic and oftentimes experimental approach—as well as his perceived criticism of Southern values—often left him at odds with his publishers and the reading public. Following the initial rejection of his third novel, Sartoris, he became disillusioned with the publishing industry as a whole and instead began to focus on his own development as an artist. This period led to the production of some of his most acclaimed works, including The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. He later achieved widespread success as both an author and a scriptwriter, and he received the 1949 Nobel Prize in literature.