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Plot Summary and Key Elements in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

Summary:

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner follows the life of Emily Grierson, an isolated Southern woman, through a non-linear narrative. Key elements include Emily's refusal to accept change, her controlling father, and her relationship with Homer Barron. The story culminates in the discovery of Homer's corpse in Emily's house, revealing her macabre attempt to hold onto love.

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What are the main events in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner?

There are several interesting incidents that shine a light into the otherwise obscure world of Emily Grierson in the story "A Rose for Emily".  It is best to focus on those events that directly contribute to moving the plot forward, culminating in the highly climactic ending that finally gives away the answer to the question of what was going on inside Emily's home, inside her head, and inside her heart.

The first event is the one that prompts the "conversation" among the townsfolk of Jefferson concerning Miss Emily: her funeral. It is this event that triggers the telling of her story, as it connects the entire town with a common preoccupation concerning their most eccentric inhabitant.

Since the story does not follow a linear narrative, let's put the events in order as they are told by the narrator.

The death of Emily's father starts the sequence of events, as it is obvious that Emily's profound attachment to her father,  and her overprotected childhood, leaves her lacking the social tools that she desperately needs to fit in her environment.

We learn that she refused to bury her father, and that the town had to intervene.  She also refuses to pay taxes, as she is still mentally stuck back in the times when her family was powerful enough to be exempt.

Meeting Homer Barron is the most pivotal event, as it shows that Emily has, in a way, broken away from herself and has attached to the real world. Of course, the townspeople were not happy with Homer, as is evident in the way he is described:

a Yankee—a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the riggers, and the riggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks.

Although the people were happy to see Emily with someone, they still felt that Homer fell way short compared to what Emily's father would have wanted for his daughter.

The time period when Homer leaves town and then returns marks the time when Emily is seen buying a wedding trousseau for a man and bathroom items. This is when everyone wonders whether there will be a wedding. Emily is also seen buying poison at the pharmacy. Shortly after, Homer enters Emily's house, but is never seen leaving.

Then comes the stench that starts reeking from Emily's house. This is not only significant as far as foreshadowing goes, but it also shows the feelings of the villagers toward Emily. Rather than letting the police get Emily for a potential sanitation issue, the people get together and dose Emily's yard with lime.

The final (and most important) event is Emily's death. She had already turned into a complete recluse, inciting all sorts of rumors around town. It is because of her death that a door finally opens in her property. It is then that the corpse of Homer Barron is discovered laying on Emily's bed.

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What are the activities of Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"?

The structure that William Faulkner uses in the story sometimes obscures the specific actions that are taking place at specific times. The narrator uses a flashback technique to reminisce about events that occurred in the past, most likely within their memory; the reader does not learn this narrator’s identity or gender. Those flashbacks also refer to events further back in time that one of the characters may be discussing.

If the reader accepts the accuracy of this narrator’s telling, there are several specific actions that can be established. Two of these are the deaths of Emily and of her father. When the story opens, the narrator explains that she was in her seventies when she had passed away recently. About 50 years earlier, her father had died and left her the family house. The narrator tells us that there was inadequate money to properly care for the house or pay the taxes on it. One event mentioned is that the former mayor had allowed her not to pay taxes, and she continued not to do so even after that mayor also passed away.

In more recent years, an action that the narrator establishes is that after her father died, Homer Barron came to town from the North and began to court Emily. The townspeople disapprove and, along with her cousins, try to intervene. Homer apparently leaves town, but this action is not a certainty. He is no longer seen in town.

Along with the news of Emily’s death and the townspeople’s curiosity about seeing the inside of the reclusive woman’s house, the narrator refers to the discovery of a dead body in her bedroom. While it cannot be ascertained precisely how he died, the narrator also mentions Emily’s purchase of rat poison. In sum, many important actions are not discussed in the story because the narrator did not observe them or does not report gossip from people who supposedly did observe them.

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What are the activities of Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"?

If by activities, you mean, actions in the plot, we can start with some of the things that made Miss Emily Grierson so unique.  She was stubborn to the point of ignoring anything she disagreed with--she refused to pay or acknowledge that she owed taxes.  She refused to tell the druggist why she wanted arsenic even though by law she was required to do so.  She even refused to admit that her father was dead, keeping his dead body in the parlor for at least three days.

By the end of the story, we learn that she had indeed killed Homer Barron years earlier and kept his dead body in a bed where she had at least once and very recently lain down beside his body.

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What are the major events in "A Rose for Emily"?

The list of major events in Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” includes several deaths, and tense interactions between an isolated but acknowledged community member and the rest of the community, including its leaders. The story begins with the death of the title character, and then circles back to the events leading up to her death and the subsequent discoveries it brings.

The events of the story seem to come in parallels of events in Emily’s personal life, and events in the relationship between Emily and the town. When Emily’s father passes away, Emily refuses to admit he is dead and will not let the body be removed for burial for several days, leading the town to nearly use force to address the matter. After Emily’s father’s death, the mayor remits her taxes, which sharply illuminates the drastic change in Emily’s life from wealth and high standing in the town, while also protecting Emily from having to deal with this change.

When she has recovered from her loss, Emily is seen going out with a potential suitor, Homer Barron, which eventually leads to much disapproving gossip from the town, and the minister is pressured to intervene. During this time, Emily purchases poison from a very reluctant druggist, an event that is not proven to be major until the very end of the story. After the minister’s intervention, Emily’s cousins visit, and Emily purchases some men’s clothing and a toilet set, leading the town to believe Emily and Homer soon would be married. Instead, Emily’s sweetheart Homer disappears, and the townspeople complain about a terrible odor coming from her home. Rather than confront her about it, the town leaders secretly sprinkle lime on her property to dispel the smell. In later years, when a younger generation is in charge of the town, the mayor, aldermen and sheriff attempt to reinstate her taxes, and she refuses to engage with them, repeatedly insisting that she has no taxes. The community leaders acquiesce and leave her alone. Finally, Miss Emily dies, precipitating the discovery of the most major event in the story: Emily poisoned Homer Barron, all those years ago, kept his corpse in a locked room, and apparently slept next to it.

An interesting aspect of these major events is that some of them are seeming non-events, or attempts by Miss Emily to stall time and ignore or prevent the inevitable losses and changes that life brings to everyone. The interactions with the town also sometimes seem uneventful, as the townspeople consistently choose to avoid conflict. However, these quiet events where opportunity is lost can be major, as when the druggist allows Emily to purchase poison, despite her refusal to obey the law and explain why she needed it. The story illuminates the intense drama of even quiet small-town life, despite, and sometimes because of, all attempts to ignore or avoid it. For resources on the eNotes site that can give you more helpful information about the story and its major events, click on the reference link below.

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What are the major events in "A Rose for Emily"?

In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the following events occur:

  • Emily's father dies.
  • Emily tries to keep his body and says that he is not dead.
  • Emily meets Homer Barron and they date.
  • Emily buys poison.
  • Homer is seen going into her house one night and never seen again.  The townspeople assume he left town.
  • Emily's house smells horribly.
  • Emily dies.
  • A skeleton is found in Emily's upper bedroom, as is a hair that matches Emily's in an indentation in the pillow on the bed, next to the skeleton.

As you may notice, when these events are placed in order, not much of a surprise is created when Homer's skeleton is found.  This attests to Faulkner's skill as a writer and his skillfull use of point of view. 

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What are the major events in "A Rose for Emily"?

William Faulkner makes a deliberate choice to begin this story at the end in order to build and maintain suspense. It is up to the reader to unpick what is going on and establish what the true order of events might be. Essentially, however, it goes something like this:

Emily Grierson lives with her father, who thinks no man is good enough for her.

Emily's father dies. She at first refuses to let anyone dispose of the body. For a while, after this period, she ventures out very little, and employs a "Negro man" to keep her house for her. A dispensation is granted for Emily, on the death of her father, saying she need no longer pay taxes.

Emily is sick for a while. Then, about two years after Emily's father dies, she cuts her hair short and reappears. A construction company arrives with Homer Barron as foreman. Emily begins to be seen with Homer Barron, and it is thought that she might marry him.

Emily goes to the druggist to buy some poison. Emily says it is for rats and people think she is going to kill herself with it. However, she doesn't—instead, she begins to order items for Homer, including clothes and a toilet set.

Then Homer Barron disappears.

A strange smell is observed coming from Emily's house. Rather than challenging Emily about it, some men cross Emily's lawn and put down lime to get rid of the smell.

Emily hides herself away and is little seen for six or seven years, when she begins to give lessons in china painting.

The city authorities come to Miss Emily to tell her she needs to pay taxes. Emily sends them away.

Emily dies, and the old black servant lets the people into the house. The body of Homer Barron is then found in a bed in her home.

We can infer, then, that Emily kills Homer before the smell is detected.

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What are the major events in "A Rose for Emily"?

One of the things that makes William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” intriguing and memorable is its enigmatic plot. Events are not related in linear order; rather, the story travels back and forth in time. The reader is yanked in and out of spaces and across years, making Emily’s crime hard to immediately discern.

While the plot can be a fun puzzle, it can also be frustratingly difficult to follow at times. Here is a list of what occurs in the story in chronological order:

  1. Emily’s father dies
  2. Colonel Sartoris pays Emily’s taxes
  3. Colonel Sartoris dies
  4. Homer comes to town
  5. Emily purchases arsenic
  6. Homer goes missing
  7. A smell emerges and becomes stronger
  8. Aldermen try to collect taxes from Emily
  9. Emily dies and Homer's body is discovered
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What is the chronological order of events in "A Rose for Emily"?

To put Emily Grierson's life and death into a timeline from the information in the story, the reader must reconstruct events from hints given in the various sections of the story--which are not chronological. 

As a young woman, Emily lived with her father, and he scared away all potential suitors. Emily had out-of-town relatives, and one, a great-aunt, went crazy. Emily's father had a falling out with his family before he died. After his death, Emily refused to admit he had died, and it took three days for townspeople to convince her. No extended family came to the funeral. Emily was reclusive for a long time--months--after her father's death. Colonel Sartoris, the mayor, forgave Emily's taxes because she had no inheritance other than the house.  

About a year after her father's death, Homer Barron, a Northerner, began courting Emily. The town believed her unchaperoned affair with Homer was a scandal, and the Baptist minister called on her, but wouldn't say what happened. Female cousins came to stay with Emily. She purchased a men's toilet set, engraved with the initials H.B., and arsenic. The townspeople assumed Emily and Homer were getting married or had gotten married. Homer Barron left town, and the people believed he went home to prepare to move Emily to the North with him. The cousins went back to Alabama, and Homer Barron returned. He was seen entering Miss Emily's home. But he was never seen leaving. Shortly after, there was a horrible smell on the property and the aldermen came at night to spread lime around the home. This is the point at which Emily murdered Homer and slept with his corpse, but that is not revealed until the end of the story.

After that, Emily became reclusive. She wasn't seen at all for six months, and seldom for about eight years. Then, when she was about 40, she started giving china painting lessons for about six or seven years. After that, she was rarely seen and never went out. Colonel Sartoris had died, and the new generation of aldermen tried to collect taxes from Emily, to no avail. She died when she was about 72 years old. Emily's black servant who had lived with her since the death of her father walked out the day she died without saying anything to anyone. Her two cousins came from Alabama for the funeral. After the funeral, the townspeople broke down the door of Emily's upstairs bedroom and found the skeleton of Homer Barron in her bed.

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What is the chronological order of events in "A Rose for Emily"?

This question is harder to answer than one might think. Faulkner, in telling his story out of order, doesn't make it easy; it takes a very close reading of the novel in order to figure out the real order of major events. Faulkner slips in little clues here and there like "it was ten years later" or "no one saw Miss Emily for six months"; using those clues, you can piece it together. In a nutshell, here are some of the major events, in order of actual occurrence: 1. Her father dies; people finally convince her to give up the body. 2. Homer Barron arrives in town; people see her riding around in her carriage with him. 3. The aunts come, Emily buys toiletries with Homer's initials, AND arsenic. 4. The aunts leave, and Homer returns after being gone for 3 days, only to disappear forever. 5. The smell; lime is applied. 6. She isn't seen for a while; she gives painting lessons occasionally. 7. The aldermen visit about taxes, unsuccessfully. 8. Emily dies. I hope that helps, and if there are any details I missed, hopefully you can tell where to fit them in.
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What are the major events in "A Rose for Emily"?

"A Rose for Emily”--One of the interesting aspects of this clever, macabre story is its fractured time frame.  William Faulkner’s story requires looking at each section of the story to establish the chronological order.  Unlike other authors, Faulkner sets the beginning of the story with the funeral of the main character, Miss Emily Grierson, the town recluse/celebrity.

Only a few specific dates are mentioned in the story, but a close reading makes it possible to assign certain sequential events. We know, for example, that Colonel Sartoris remits Miss Emily's taxes in 1894, and that he has been dead for at least ten years when she confronts the new aldermen. Likewise, we know that she dies at the age of 74. When she was forty, she gave China painting lessons to the children. From these clues, the reader can set a framework for the story.

What  happened and when?

Section 11

  • Miss Emily’s father dies.
  • Her fiancé deserts her.

Section III

  • Homer Barron comes to town.
  • He squires Miss Emily around  town in a buggy.

Section IV

  •  Rumors fly about Miss Emily and Homer and them acting disgracefully.
  • The Baptist Minister comes to talk to Miss Emily.
  • The cousins come to save her from Homer.
  • She buys a man's silver toilet set — a mirror, brush, and comb — and men's clothing.
  • Miss Emily buys arsenic.
  • Homer Barron disappears.

Section II

  • The neighbors complain of a smell.
  • The town men place lime around Miss Emily’s house to stop the odor.

Section IV

  • Miss Emily does not go out of the house anymore.
  • Miss Emily dies at the age of 74.

Section I

  • The cousins have Emily’s funeral two days after she dies.

 Section V

  • The town's people come to snoop around in Miss Emily’s house after her funeral.
  • The black servant lets the people in and disappears out the back door.
  • The men break down the door and discover a skeleton dressed in a nightshirt lying in the bed.
  • One grey hair is found on the pillow.

What an intriguing story to read and read again so that the reader can be sure that he has not missed any of Faulkner's hints at the surprise ending of the story. 

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What are the different timelines of the life of the Emily in "A Rose for Emily"?

1. Part 1 of the story begins with Miss Emily's death.  Faulkner writes,

"When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral . . ."

After a description of the place Miss Emily held in the town (she represents tradition) and a listing of her notable ancestors, the author begins to go back in time to right before Miss Emily died.  He states that at this point, she already shut herself up in the house and ceased to give china-painting lessons.

2. After the town's leaders visit the elderly Emily in regards to her taxes, Faulkner begins Part 2 by flashing back 30 years earlier (two years after Emily's father died).  At this point in the story, the town is concerned about the smell emanating from Emily's house.  After this incident, Faulkner does continue going back in time to Emily's reaction to her father's death.  In this section overall, Miss Emily's younger years are presented, and Faulkner even describes a very young Emily whose father drove away suitors.

3.  In Part 3, Miss Emily is still a younger woman because this is when she meets Homer Barron and develops a keen interest in him.

4.  In Part 4, Faulkner continues with Emily's "dying" relationship with Homer and brings the story back to its beginning time--Miss Emily's death.  At the end of Part 4, the narrator states,

"Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out [of Miss Emily's house]."

Thus, altogether, you could list at least 3 different timelines in Miss Emily's life from the story (even though Faulkner does not address them chronologically).

1. Miss Emily as a young girl of courting age (this is simply a reference made by the author to Miss Emily's father driving off suitors).

2. Miss Emily as a fatherless younger woman (perhaps in her 30s or 40s) who becomes sick after her father's death and then becomes interested in Homer Barron.

3. Miss Emily as an elderly recluse right before her death.

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What are the major events in "A Rose for Emily"?

This is a great assignment that I have also given my classes. It's especially tough because of the flashbacks and constant shifts in time sequence.

CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF EVENTS IN "A ROSE FOR EMILY"

  1. Emily's father dies.
  2. The Grierson taxes are remitted.
  3. Homer Barron comes to town.
  4. Homer and Emily become a couple.
  5. Homer disappears--the first time.
  6. Emily's relatives arrive to discuss her relationship with Homer.
  7. Emily's relative leave; Homer returns.
  8. Emily buys rat poison.
  9. Homer disappears again.
  10. "The Smell" emerges.
  11. Men from the town spread lime around her house.
  12. Emily gives china-painting lessons.
  13. Members from the Board of Alderman try to serve Emily a tax notice.
  14. Miss Emily dies.
  15. Tobe disappears.
  16. Miss Emily's funeral.
  17. The upstairs bedroom is entered, and the body on the bed--and the strand of hair on the pillow--are found.
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What are the major events in "A Rose for Emily"?

Reassembling William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily," is no easy task since it is told in a manner that includes multiple shifts in time. Chronologically, we first hear of Emily in her 20s, "a slender figure" pictured with her father in a photograph. Emily's father died while she was in her 30s, and she refused to allow the body to be removed from the house for three days. "She was sick for a long time" after that, and when she next appeared her hair had been cut short. She met Homer Barron soon after. Their romance was a short one. Some of Emily's relatives visited to discuss her relationship with this Yankee working man. After the relatives left, Homer reappeared, but soon he was gone--but not before Emily had made an unusual purchase of rat poison. Not long after, a smell was noticed about the Grierson house, and some townspeople soon spread lime around the outer fringes of the home to eradicate the smell. Soon, it, too, was gone.

It was a long time before Emily was seen again, and her hair was turning gray. She gave china painting lessons for "six or seven years, when she was about forty." Soon after, she was greeted by a delegation to inquire about her taxes, which she refused to pay. After the children stopped coming for the painting lessons, Emily was rarely visible. Only her manservant, Tobe, was seen, except for an occasional glimpse of her sitting in a downstairs chair. She died at the age of 74.

Following her death, Tobe disappeared. The funeral was held "on the second day" afterward and was attended by several of her cousins and men in Confederate uniforms. After Emily "was decently in the ground," a group of men arrived to inspect the old house. They found the upstairs bedroom locked. When they broke the door down, they found the skeletal remains of a man in the bed with a yellowed pillow beside his skull: It had the indentation of a head and on it lay a single iron-gray hair.  

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What is the climax of "A Rose for Emily"?

Faulkner saves the highest point of his story, its dramatic climax, until the very end when Homer Barron's decaying corpse is found in an upstairs bedroom in Miss Emily's house, a room which nobody has seen in the previous forty years. After Miss Emily's burial, the townspeople break into this room to discover the room has been decorated much as a bridal chamber might be. Barron's suit is neatly folded on a chair, and his shoes and socks remain exactly as he had left them the night of his murder. What remains of his body lies in the bed:

The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him.  What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.

This shocking discovery, however, does not represent the dramatic climax of the story, because another, more shocking discovery awaits. The highest point of the story isn't reached until its two final sentences:

Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.

The gray hair on the pillow next to the corpse completes the puzzle of Miss Emily's later years in this great Southern gothic tale. After arriving at this amazing conclusion, suddenly all the pieces of Faulkner's disjointed narrative fall into place, and the tragedy and the madness of Miss Emily's life are made clear.

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Describe a major setting in "A Rose for Emily".

The Emily's house described in the second paragraph of the story provides one important setting, which says as much about Emily as it does the house itself for it represents her.  It had "once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the [1870s], set on what had once been our most select street."  Emily, too, was once "pure" and young and beautiful, decorated in fancy clothes and designs because she came from a privileged family. Now, however, "garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house as left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay...."  Modernization has rendered her neigborhood as it has rendered her obsolete and  hidden by industry--the past has been obscured by the present.  But her house, as "stubborn and coquettish" as she remains, just as her legacy will not easily disappear.

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What are the development and climax in "A Rose for Emily"?

William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily," actually contains a double climax; or, a false climax followed by the real climax. Upon first reading, the initial climax appears to be the discovery of the skeletal remains of Homer Barron in the bed. But Faulkner follows this up with an even greater surprise: It is the indentation of a head on the pillow, and the single strand of iron grey hair, which reveals that Miss Emily has been sleeping along side him all these years. The development, as the previous post noted, are the events of Emily's life that leads up to this macabre conclusion.

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What are the development and climax in "A Rose for Emily"?

The climax of "A Rose for Emily" occurs when it is found out that Emily has been sleeping with the body of Homer Barron.  At this point in the story, the community (and the reader) realizes the extent to which Emily's sheltered life has affected her.  The development, or rising action, towards this turning point occurs during the details given about Emily's life.  The death of her father, the purchase of the arsenic, and the ghastly smell around the house are all clues leading up to the discovery of Homer's body.  Her loneliness pushes Emily over the edge and the only resolution comes after the actual story is over--hopefully the community (and the reader) learns from Emily's plight.

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What are the main elements of the plot in "A Rose for Emily"?

Exposition: In "A Rose for Emily," Faulkner's approach is not linear, as he moves back and forth in time. Although the story begins with Miss Emily's funeral, the exposition occurs shortly thereafter when we meet Miss Emily through the narrator’s eyes and are told something about her background, her family history, and her eccentricities. Two paragraphs after the opening, Faulkner begins the exposition with,

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care.

Climax: Despite its position at the very beginning of the story, the climax occurs when Miss Emily dies. The story opens with the townspeople attending Miss Emily's funeral.

Rising action: This occurs when Miss Emily goes to the pharmacist to purchase poison and we learn about the stench emanating from her home and that Homer has left her.

Falling action: Immediately after Miss Emily’s funeral (the climax), the townspeople are able to get into her house for the first time in years. Their discovery there wraps everything up, leading to the resolution.

Resolution: Once inside Miss Emily’s home, the townspeople discover Homer's skeleton and a single long grey hair on the pillow beside his head. This resolves everything that we have learned previously in the story, as we realize that the poison was not for rats, but for Homer. We conclude that Miss Emily killed Homer, probably because he threatened to leave or because she was just afraid that he would leave her. Once he was dead, she lived with his decaying corpse as if they were man and wife. There is symmetry here to her earlier refusal to allow the locals to take the body of her deceased father for burial when she wanted to remain with her father even after his death.

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What are the main elements of the plot in "A Rose for Emily"?

We do not necessarily have to consider the story in chronological order in order to assess these elements.  In fact, the story is not presented to us in chronological order, so I would argue that we ought to honor the order of events in which we do get the story when analyzing it.  As a result, descriptions of Miss Emily's funeral, the town's feelings about her during her life, and her taxes are all exposition.  

The rising action begins with the description of the smell that once emanated from Miss Emily's home, thirty years prior to the tax conflict and just two years or so after her father's death.  Next, we learn about her father's belief when Emily was young that no one was good enough for her.  Then he dies, leaving her all alone, something that she is clearly uncomfortable with because she hoards his body for days before allowing people to take it away and bury it.  This is also an important instance of rising action because Emily's odd treatment of the dead is a clue to understanding the story's climax.  Emily gets sick, recovers, meets Homer Barron, buys arsenic, refuses to tell the druggist what she needs it for, and buys wedding gifts for Homer, before he disappears into her home for good, never to be seen again: This all falls under the characterization of rising action, as is the description of her "iron-gray" hair.  

Finally, Emily dies, and after her funeral, townspeople know that the door to one room upstairs "would have to be forced open." It had not been opened for some forty years.  In the story's climax, there is the "violence of breaking down the door" and the discovery of Homer Barron's decayed body, surrounded by his bridal suit and the gifts Miss Emily purchased for him.  This is the moment of the most tension in the story: we learn that she has hoarded Homer's body just as she did her father's.  

In the story's falling action, the narrator describes Homer's body, its attitude, and final posture, as well as the fact that it has essentially rotted so much that it "had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay."  In the story's resolution, we learn that a long piece of Emily's easily identifiable (as a result of the earlier description in the rising action) hair is found on the pillow beside Homer's.  At this point, what we might have suspected is confirmed: Emily murdered Homer in order to prevent him from ever leaving her, as he apparently briefly did when her awful family came to visit at the request of the townsfolk.  

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What are the main elements of the plot in "A Rose for Emily"?

This story is told almost backwards with its use of flashbacks. So the way to examine it's plot sections is also backwards.  The exposition of the story would be when the author introduces her father and we see his personality and her background.  We know the characters involved and the conflict.  Emily is too good for any man, according to her father, so he keeps her from dating/marrying.  Then he dies, which is another conflict for her--being alone.  This carries on throughout the story.  She does not want to be left.

The rising action involves most of the rest of the storyline including the town's attitude towards her and her fling with Homer.  Even the part where she buys the arsenic and the house smells something awful.  The town even spreads lime around the house to help keep the smell down.

The climax is not until the last few lines of the story when we find Homer's body and one of her gray hairs on the pillow next to his corpse.  We realize that she had poisoned him so he wouldn't leave, (and that was the awful smell earlier) and that she has been lying with him ever since.

The falling action is about a decade before she dies when they try to get her tax money from her.  She holds them off, though.  And the resolution then is the really at the beginning when she is introduced at her own funeral.

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What are the main elements of the plot in "A Rose for Emily"?

I would say that the rising action is constituted by the information regarding Miss Emily's conflict with her family and the people in the town, as society is her antagonist. This would include information about conflicts with the "city authorities" who come to try to collect taxes from her; the people who try to address the terrible smell emanating from her home some thirty years before; the people who talk about her negatively as a result of her relationship with Homer Barron, the "druggist" who tries to find out why she wants arsenic; her relatives who come to try to break up her relationship with Barron; the people who try to give her a mailbox and house number; and so forth. The climax of the story occurs when the townsfolk find Homer Barron, dead and decayed in Miss Emily's bed, after her own death. "The man himself lay in the bed," the narrator says. The falling action describes the appearance of his body—or what is left of it—as well as the information regarding finding Miss Emily's hair on the pillow beside him.

Evidently, Miss Emily was so terrified of being alone, or too proud to endure it, that she killed her beau rather than allow him to abandon her as her father once did. That she would lay next to him, her head on the pillow beside his, seems to indicate an affection rather than a hatred; she killed him, not because she hated him, but because she needed to keep him with her. This conveys the ideas that people fear being alone and will go to great lengths in order to avoid feeling abandoned and unloved.

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What are the main elements of the plot in "A Rose for Emily"?

The structure of "A Rose for Emily" is a bit different from most stories in that, in typical Faulkner fashion, the story just ENDS with a shocking discovery that has been foreshadowed from the start.

The rising action is the set-up to the story. We are given all pof the background about Miss Emily, we are given the stories about her and her father, about Homer Baron, about the rat poison and the smell that came from her place.

The climax is when they find the hair on her pillow. Everything in this story leads up to this moment.

The falling action is unstated, really, as this is told in a flashback format. You could almost look at it as occurring only in the reader's reflections on what has occurred.

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What is the timeline of events in "A Rose for Emily"?

The passage of time is an important theme in Faulkner's famed short story "A Rose for Emily," and its highly confusing non-linear time sequence takes many leaps forward and backward. The exact dates in which the story takes place is not certain, but a few dates and time periods are mentioned.

We do know that Colonel Sartoris, mayor of Jefferson, remitted Emily's taxes in 1894. The family home is said to have resembled "the lightsome style of the seventies (1870s)," so we can assume that Miss Emily was born during or possibly before this time. A generation (20-30 years?) passed before the new mayor attempted to collect taxes from Emily, who is described as "small, fat... leaning on a cane."

The next chapter declares that Emily "vanquished them... just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell." At the time of Emily's death at age 74, it is mentioned that the room upstairs had not been "seen in forty years."

Lastly, we know that author William Faulkner first published the story in 1930 and he may have been kicking around the idea for several years before. So, during what years does the story take place? It is still a mystery, but backtracking 40 years from the publication date to the time of "the smell" would make it about 1890. Since Emily was probably in her 30s when she dated Homer, we can assume that Emily was born no later--and, certainly, possibly before--1856.

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