Does the narrative of "A Rose for Emily" prepare the reader for its ending?

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Although Faulkner does provide clues throughout the piece that something is not quite right with Miss Emily, he intentionally does not fully 'prepare' the reader for the ending. The lack of preparation is created by the use of a first person plural (and peripheral)narrator - a stereotypical old-fashioned small town where everyone knows about everyone else. The town watches and speculates from the outside about Miss Emily's actions, intentions, motivations, etc, and the reader is led to do the same for lack of any other information. Faulkner's lack of preparation adds to the horrific shock effect that slowly sinks into the reader's comprehension at the end as he/she begins to put together all the pieces and clues given by the narrator. It is only then that the reader can fathom the true significance of Miss Emily's demented actions, something that the small, gentile, Southern town (narrator) could never have imagined.

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Well, in retrospect, yes. There are plenty of signs that Miss Emily is not doing well emotionally. She is ostracized from the beginning by her social standing in the town. She was the daughter of a famous war hero and this sets her apart from others. She never dates, has no friends, and when she buys rat poision, things begin to add up. Looking back, as the narrator does, all the signs of tragedy are there.

Still, the ending is shocking. It is Faulkner's way of snapping the characters into the reality of what can happen when a person becomes so emotionally, physically, and psychologically isolated.

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