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The five deaths in "A Rose for Emily"

Summary:

The five deaths in "A Rose for Emily" are those of Emily's father, Colonel Sartoris, Emily's long-time servant Tobe, Homer Barron, and Emily herself. Emily's father dies early in the story, followed by Colonel Sartoris. Homer Barron is poisoned by Emily, Tobe disappears after Emily's death, and Emily herself dies at the end of the story.

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What are the five deaths in "A Rose for Emily"?

A primary theme of "A Rose for Emily" is death. Emily doesn't grasp the reality of her father's death. His death sends her into physical, emotional, and financial decline that seems to cut her off from her extended family as much as it cuts her off from her town. The deaths that occur in the story relate to Emily's family position, her relationship to the town, and her personal life.

First in importance was the (1) death of her father who gave Emily both her "backbone" and her imprisonment. If his death had left her money as well as the family name, she might have eventually enjoyed her new place in town life. As it was, he only left her a house, a name, apparently enough to survive on until old age, and debt.The other family death was that of (2) old lady Wyatt, Emily's great-aunt, over whose estate Emily's father had a quarrel with the other family members.

Second in importance was the death of (3) her betrothed sweetheart Homer Barron, which is guessed at during the course of the story and unnervingly revealed at the close of the story. His death reflects in a troublesome way on Emily's mental and emotional stability, doesn't it? Emily's relationship to the town was affected by the death of (4) Colonel Sartoris who had invented an elaborate scheme to eliminated Emily's town property taxes on the Grierson house. Finally, (5) Emily herself dies and the male servant runs out the back door never to be seen again.

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What are the five deaths in "A Rose for Emily"?

Death is prevalent, both literally and figuratively, in "A Rose for Emily." Five actual deaths are discussed or mentioned in passing, and there are obvious references to death throughout the story.

The text mentions the death of Emily, her father, Old Lady Wyatt (Emily's great-aunt), Colonel Sartoris, and finally, the discovery of a long strand of iron-gray hair lying on a pillow next to the moldy corpse entombed in Emily's boudoir.

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What are the five deaths mentioned in "A Rose for Emily"?

Faulkner chooses to tell the story out of order for reasons of building and maintaining suspense, so the first death presented to us is that of Miss Emily Grierson herself. When Emily dies, everybody in town goes to the funeral, partially to gawp at this town institution.

Next, it is mentioned that Emily's father died thirty years before, after which Emily did not venture out of the house very much. She had refused to relinquish the body at first.

The most significant death in the story, arguably, is the death of Homer Barron. This is alluded to from various angles; we can piece together that Emily probably bought poison and killed him, then kept him in her house, with this causing the smell around her house. At the end of the story, his body is found in Emily's bed.

There's another death which is important to Emily. Colonel Sartoris had decreed that the family should pay no taxes in the town; after he dies, Emily is forced to argue her case on this point.

The only other death referred to obliquely is that of Emily's great aunt, old lady Wyatt. She went "crazy" at the end, and Emily's father had fallen out with the rest of the family over this woman's estate, leaving Emily without an extended family willing to speak to her.

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