In "A Rose for Emily," how might the story differ if told from Emily's point of view?

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Emily, who is a spinster, is the central character of this story. The events of the story take place in Jefferson, Mississippi. The time frame is from about 1910 until Emily's death in 1941. Summary Of Background Information On William Faulkner: William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American novelist and short story writer who won the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature, "for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel". He wrote many novels that are set in a fictional Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, based on Lafayette County where he grew up. He set most of his stories in fictional towns and villages as well as New Orleans which he had visited often during his childhood.

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William Faulkner's story "A Rose for Emily" would have been very different had it been told by Emily herself. The reader would have gained some insight into Emily's behavior, but would have lost the outside perspective of the town's people.

Faulkner is known for being adept at...

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describing both small towns and interpersonal relationships, and "A Rose for Emily" illustrates both. While the story is told in first person, it is not the traditional first person view of a single narrator. The story seems to be told from the view point of multiple people, or at least by a single person who knew of multiple people's opinions on Emily's antics.

If Emily had been telling the story, the reader would have learned what happened during the time between Emily's father's death and when she finally decides to hand over his body three days later.

The reader would most likely have found out how and when Emily decided to kill Homer. The reader is aware that the town thinks Homer is far beneath Emily in social stature, but they apparently have no idea as to Emily and Homer's actual relationship. When Emily buys the men's outfit and toiletry set, the townspeople assume it is for their marriage, but when Homer disappears, no questions are really asked. From Emily's point of view we would have intimate knowledge of her feelings towards Homer.

Another character we might have gained more insight into if Emily were telling the story is her servant, Tobe. Tobe is with Emily on a day-to-day basis and must have known of Emily's actions concerning both her father and Homer. With Emily as the storyteller we would finally know what she had done or given Tobe to ensure her actions never came to light in the small town.

Emily would most likely have discussed her view on the people of the town. When Emily sees the men sprinkling lime around her house in order to conceal the odor rather than confront her, she must have had many emotions. She could have been angry or possibly scared that her actions would be found out and the body would be found.

Emily was cut off from the world at a young age by her father. This caused her to become quite reclusive after his death. A story told from Emily's point of view would show how she spent her time without much contact from the outside world. We would know why she continued to shy away from the people in town.

The reader is left with many questions at the end of the story that could have been answered had Emily been telling it. But in many ways the story being told from the town's point of view is a good thing, as it shows interactions between people in a small southern town. We would have lost the ability to know how people talked about Emily, and their opinions on her behavior.

Emily most likely would have felt that everything she did was quite normal, even though she did know that she needed to conceal Homer's body, so she must not have been truly insane.

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In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the titular character is presented as almost a folk-legend in her own time, a figure of much interest for everyone in the town. Emily has lived long enough, and been gossiped about enough, to leave the women of the town filled with "curiosity to see the inside of her house." Everyone has drawn inferences about what has happened there, but Emily's story is never told from her own point of view, and so there remain caesurae in the narrative, particularly in relation to Emily's motivations and feelings.

As readers of the story, we can determine what was the cause of the mysterious smell which filled the town some thirty years before Emily's death. When, at the end of the story, it is revealed that Emily has been sleeping for years with the corpse of her lover, it becomes clear to us that this was the cause of the putrid scent about which the townspeople were unable to do anything—she had kept a corpse in her house until it began to rot. They also did not know—and we, the reader, do not know—what exactly drove Emily to insist that her father was not dead and to refuse to allow anyone to enter the house to remove his body for several days after his death. What was the connection between Emily and her father? Was she really "crazy" after all, or had she been affected by some misfortune in early life which led her to behave the way she did? Was there some kind of abuse in the home?

The primary element of the narrative which remains mysterious to us, however, is of course how and at what point Emily kills Homer Barron. As readers, we assume that she does this with the poison she purchases, but what drives her to it? What are her specific motivations? It seems that she wants to keep him with her by force, if he will not willingly marry her, but why does she do this, and how does she poison him? It would be valuable for us to see the inner workings of Emily's mind as she plans and carries out this deed.

Another question that always strikes me when reading this story is this: did Emily's loyal servant Tobe know about Homer Barron dead in the upstairs room? Was he loyal enough to Emily to understand that some part of her needed, however grotesquely, to keep this corpse available to her for the purposes of embracing it, even until her hair had gone white?

Ultimately, the story is stronger because we don't know these things. Emily goes to her grave a mystery.

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In "A Rose For Emily," what would be different if this story were told from Emily’s point of view instead of the third person point of view?

Among other remarks, the critic Frank A. Littler refers to Faulkner's story as "a meditation on allegory of the relations between North and South."  So, without the narrators of "A Rose for Emily," much of this background on Emily would be missing.  It is this history of the Grierson's and their house provided by the narrators that provides the contrast between the Old South and the New South with Emily as a relic of that former life.

Certainly, too, the chronology of the story would be altered if the narrative of the Faulkner's tale were told from first person point of view.  With the "we" group narrating and recalling in a natural way, the Gothic effect of the ending is much more effective, for the discovery of Emily's grey hair is, indeed, shocking.

Then, too, there is the abnormal behavior of Emily that, viewed by the narrators, leaves out information that lends some mystery to the story, making it more intriguing to the reader and leaving much of the "work" to the reader.

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What would the story "A Rose for Emily" lose if it were told in first person singular,or in third person limited point of view?

The style of narration in the story is crucial to gather all of the facts to create suspense, without giving too many facts to eliminate that same suspense.  If it were a first-person narrative, the element of creepy voyeurism would be completely eliminated.  Miss Emily would no longer be a mystery; if we were in her head, and she was explaining all of her actions and thought processes, we would completely understand her.  She would lose her mysterious "creepy lady in an old house" appeal that is so necessary for a great horror story.  As Stephen King, noted suspense writer notes, you can keep your audience in suspense as long as they don't know what is going on behind the closed door.  Open up that door and reveal, through first-person narration, Emily's mysteries, and there would be nothing to keep us reading.  As it is told now, we just get  bits and pieces that trail us along, keeping us guessing.

If it were a third-person limited point of view, it would have been difficult to tap into the collective intelligence of mass gossip.  If you get a room of people together and ask them about an event, you'll get much more information than if you were to ask just one person, which is what third-person limited would be like.  Because of the collective view-point, we know of many more mysterious occasions and actions of Emily than we would have otherwise; it pieces together a much more complete puzzle.

I hope that those thoughts help; good luck!

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