Discussion Topic

Setting and Summary of "A Rose for Emily"

Summary:

"A Rose for Emily" is set in the fictional town of Jefferson, Mississippi, in the post-Civil War South. The story follows the life of Emily Grierson, a reclusive woman whose death reveals her tragic and macabre secrets. Through a non-linear narrative, it explores themes of tradition versus change, isolation, and the passage of time.

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What is the setting and summary of "A Rose for Emily"?

This story is set in the American South in the era following the Civil War. We learn early on that Miss Emily was told in 1894, not long after her father's death, that her family owed no taxes in town because of a time when her father loaned money to Jefferson. So we can surmise that the bulk of the story is taking place in this decade and the few that follow it. By the time Miss Emily died, there were only a few "very old men" wearing their "brushed Confederate uniforms" to attend her funeral, and because the Civil War ended in 1865, the story really cannot extend too close to the middle of the twentieth century.

Producing a summary of this story is actually a somewhat fraught undertaking because it is not told in chronological order. The reader is left to connect the events of the story through time. In the first part, we learn of Miss Emily's death and her status in town, how she was told she owed no taxes, how—a generation later—she was asked to begin to pay again, and how she "vanquished" the men who came to ask her for payment.

In part 2, we go back in time to learn about the terrible smell surrounding her home that caused quite a stir thirty years ago. Eventually, some neighbors sprinkled lime around her property, and the smell dissipated. People began to feel sorry for her, especially because her new beau went away, and Miss Emily was left with no money and no one.

In part 3, we go back a bit more in time to learn about her romance with this beau, a Yankee called Homer Barron, and how people judged Emily for her choice. Emily still held her head high. One day, she purchased arsenic, though she would not tell the pharmacist why.

In part 4, we learn that the townspeople believed she would use the poison to kill herself. They reported her behavior with Homer to her family, and the boyfriend vanished for a few days. When he came back, Emily's servant let him in, and then no one ever saw him again. Emily herself stayed in her home for some time, and everyone believed that Homer had left her. The years passed, and Emily became a shut-in; only her servant came and went. Finally, she died in the downstairs of her home.

In the last part, back to the near present, a funeral was held, and Miss Emily's bedroom was finally opened. They found the corpse of Homer Barron lying in Miss Emily's bed, with an indentation and a piece of her hair on the pillow next to his. The room had, evidently, been prepared as though it were a bridal suite, and we are given to believe that Emily killed Homer with the arsenic rather than be abandoned again, as she felt her father had done.

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What is the setting and summary of "A Rose for Emily"?

The story, like many of Faulkner's stories, is set in Jefferson, the county seat of Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Jefferson is a small town filled with families that are rooted deeply in the history of the South and its culture. The people of Jefferson are united in their values and opinions; they think as one. In "A Rose for Emily," Faulkner develops the town so that it functions as a character in the story, not as a collection of individuals, but as a force to be reckoned with.

Go to the eNotes links below to find an excellent summary of the story, as well as additional information to aid in your study.

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What is the setting and summary of "A Rose for Emily"?

In response to the setting--

Intrinsic to the development of both character and conflict, the setting of "A Rose for Emily" is Jefferson, the county seat of Faulkner's fictional kingdom that he named Yoknapatawpha county, a county in which Colonel Sartoris is an important figure.

Devasted by the emancipation of slaves after the Civil War, the South was inundated by Northern opportunists, known as carpetbaggers. Against the Northerners who had no code of conduct, the newly-poor plantation owners retained their aristocratic arrogance.  And, the code of chivalry of such men as Emily Grierson's father protected the women against encounters with men such as Homer Barron. This code of chivalry keeps Colonel Sartoris from taxing the poor spinster and Judge Stevens from confronting Emily about the smell emanating from her house.

However, the new generations of the South are removed from these antiquated ways, and it is this conflict between twentieth century and antebellum ways that is presented in Emily's character.

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In "A Rose for Emily," where and when does the story take place?

    In the future, Richie, try to restrict your questions to just one or two per posting. Feel free to relist the additional questions.

    William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily," was his first publication in a major magazine. It first made its appearance in 1930, and Faulkner had no doubt been working on it for some time before that. The exact date is not stated in the story, but we can assume it is probably in the early 1920s or possibly slightly earlier. We know that the Grierson home is "of the lightsome style of the seventies (1870s)," and the home is old and decrepit by the end of the story. Her taxes were remitted in 1894 and Miss Emily lived for some time after that.
    The story takes place in the mythical town of Jefferson and presumably in Mississippi, the setting of most Faulkner stories.

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In what year does "A Rose for Emily" take place?

There are some clues in the story to give us some ideas about when this story takes place.  In the first section, we are told that Miss Emily was relieved of the obligation to pay taxes in 1894, going back to the date of her father's death and "on into perpetuity (288).  We do not know the date of her father's death, but we do know that the next generation sends a delegation to investigate when her taxes remain unpaid.  In Section II, we are told that she gets rid of the delegation, as she had gotten rid of the delegation sent thirty years earlier, two years after her father died.  So we can make a guess that would take the action up to 1924.  We are also told in Section V that when Miss Emily dies, there is a room that must be opened, a room that no one has seen for more than forty years.

There are other time "clues" in the story, for example, that she died at age 74 and that she gave china-painting lessons for six or seven years when she was forty.  If you read the story carefully, you should be able to make an educated guess about the entire period in which the action takes place.

Good luck.

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In what year does "A Rose for Emily" take place?

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner was first published in 1930 in an issue of The Forum, a literary magazine. It has since been published in numerous collections, and is used for many high school English courses. It is a great tale of people ignoring many, many danger signs of what has been going on in the house of Emily Grierson. She is the last remaining member of a family held in high regard in her Southern town. Emily did not acknowledge her father's death for three days. She had been very sheltered by him; she was not allowed to date, even though at the time she was thirty years old. After her father's death she is attracted to a Northern man traveling through town, who informs his friends that he is not the marrying kind. Emily buys a silver toiletry set, which is assumed to be an engagement present for Homer, the man she loves. She also buys enough arsenic to kill an elephant. Her house presently begins to emit a horrible smell, but rather than actually investigate a possible death, the aldermen spread lime around the front yard. Forty years later Emily dies. Homer's skeleton is found in a bed in her house, with one of Emily's "iron-gray" hairs on the next pillow. She has apparently been sleeping next to the decomposing corpse of the man who rejected her until her death, as the gray color of the hair indicates.

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In what year does "A Rose for Emily" take place?

William Faulkner's (1897-1962) short story "A Rose for Emily" was originally published in the April 30, 1930 edition of The Forum, a widely-read American magazine founded in 1885. It was the first story Faulkner published in a national magazine, and is set in Yoknapatawpha County, the fictional county featured in many of Faulkner's other novels and stories.

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In what year does "A Rose for Emily" take place?

William Faulkner wrote this classic short story, widely considered to be his best work, in 1929. It was published in 1930.

"A Rose for Emily" is the somewhat macabre tale of the death and funeral of Miss Emily Grierson and the subsequent discovery that there is a skeleton in her bed, widely believed to be that of a lower-class Northerner with whom Emily had spent a lot of time some thirty years earlier. Homer Barron had been rumored to be Emily's fiancé prior to his disappearance. This would not have been the only time that Emily proved unwilling to acknowledge death, since after her father's death, she refused to accept the reality for three days and did not allow her father's body to be removed from the house during this time.

This story is one of several of Faulkner's stories that is set in the fictitious Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi. It is often said to be an allegory for the Old South's resistance to change, with Emily representing the Old South and Homer representing modernization.

It is often surmised that the "rose" referred to in the title may be Homer, who was preserved by Emily in a similar manner to how roses are commonly preserved for the sake of posterity.

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