Summary and Analysis Section 3
Last Updated on January 13, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 384
Homer Barron: Miss Emily’s boyfriend, who is described as a “big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face.” A Northerner, he came south to Jefferson as a foreman helping to pave the sidewalks.
The Druggist: Miss Emily ordered the local druggist to sell her arsenic, even though she refused to tell him what the poison is for.
After her father’s death, Miss Emily disappeared from public sight for a long time, and when she reemerged, Jefferson had just started paving its sidewalks. Homer Barron, a “Yankee,” was a foreman for one of the crews working on the contract, and soon, he was seen by the town escorting Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons.
The townspeople began expressing pity for Miss Emily; Homer, being a Northerner, was not considered a proper match for a Southern woman such as Miss Emily. But about a year after the two started appearing in public, Miss Emily ordered arsenic from the local druggist. Despite being asked by the druggist what the poison was for, Miss Emily refused to tell. The box had a skull and bones on it, with the caption, “For rats.”
The themes of class, race, and status are prevalent throughout Faulkner’s writing, and Faulkner address those themes repeatedly in “A Rose for Emily.” The society of Jefferson is segregated and extremely conscious of race, societal rank, and status. When Miss Emily was seen in public with Homer Barron, the townspeople were scandalized on two accounts: first, that Barron was a “Yankee,” and second, that he was a “day laborer,” even if he was a foreman. A “real lady” such as Miss Emily—and a Grierson at that—should never forget her social duty, her “noblesse oblige,” by cavorting with such a person. A true Southern lady would only consider a Southern white man of similar social standing.
Nevertheless, Miss Emily spent Sundays with Barron, ignoring the whisperings of her fellow Jeffersonians. True to her character, when Miss Emily visited the druggist to purchase some poison for reasons then unknown, she refused to tell the druggist the purpose of the poison. And true to the townspeople’s relationship with Miss Emily, the druggist did not press the issue and gave Miss Emily what she wanted.