A Rose For Emily A Rose For Emily”, by William Faulkner, is a short story that is widely read and debated because it has many interpretations among readers. “A Rose for Emily,” captures reader’s attention because it is a love story and a mystery at the same time. The story is about the dark mystery that surrounds a mysterious old woman named Emily, who grows increasingly strange throughout time. Faulkner paints an incredible picture by setting up the story and inviting the reader with the mystery that surrounds Emily. The audience does not know what the true mystery is until the last paragraphs of the story.
Faulkner’s ability to keep the audience reading until the last words of the story shows his great skill as a writer. To truly understand what is going on in the story you have to go in depth and really examine the text. Because of the various themes and interpretations found within “A rose for Emily”, when teaching it to a class you have to make sure to highlight as much information as possible to figure the story out. The three main themes of this story are love, isolation, and decay. To cover all of the three main themes I would cover each theme one at a time.
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I would break down this unit into four classes. The first class would cover the theme of love; the second about isolation, the third about decay, and the fourth class would be an overview of the whole story. In each class there would be discussions and assignments given to get the students involved and to hear their thoughts about the story. Article “Reading Between the lines” mentioned to “read and analyze William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” in its entirety and look for examples of subtext in the settings, details, and descriptions. Then, highlight passages”.
I agree with this article’s suggestion completely. I would want my students to read the whole story and try to pay attention to as much detail as possible that is written. Love is the main theme in “A Rose for Emily”. Overall, the theme of love becomes the motivating factor for Emily’s unusual behavior. The two characters responsible for Emily’s strange behavior that would need to be discussed in class are her father and Homer Barron. Emily’s father and Homer Barron are two very significant characters in the story, and both are the only two male figures in Emily’s life that she loves.
Their significance is not only due to the relationship they have with Emily, but because of the effects the have on Emily. Emily’s abusive father causes her to develop psychological problems and is the primary cause for her abnormal behavior. Her father is selfish and possessive and his actions and dominating influence creates a negative psychological effect in Emily. When Emily was young, she was a beautiful southern belle who was admired by many. Her beauty captured the attention of many men in the town. At this point we begin to see an unusual relationship between Emily and her father.
The father not only drives away every man that tried to see Emily, but also she yearns to love someone so much that it becomes irrelevant whether that person is dead. This is show when she refuses to give up her father’s body when he is dead. We do not know what Emily would have done with her father’s body if the townspeople had not forced her to give it up. She was so constrained by her father that she became so desperate for love and his body was the only possession she received from him and she did not want to let it go. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body” (Faulkner 185). After her father’s death Emily became involved with Homer Barron. Soon enough Emily murders him. The question that needs to be asked is why she murdered Homer Barron. Was it because he might have been gay? Was it because she has taken in the violence of her father and used it upon Homer? These questions would be asked among the class.
Readers firmly believe and suspect that Homer is gay because of the following line, “Homer himself had remarked–he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks’ Club–that he was not a marrying man” (Faulkner 187). Is Faulkner stating that Homer “likes men” and that he is not “a marrying man” enough evidence to prove Homer is gay? In an article from the University of Saint Thomas, it mentioned some questions that should be asked to students about Homer Barron. “What happened between Emily and Homer? Were they lovers? Did they agree, as we are led to suppose, to marry?
Yet another question, or mystery, is why did Homer Barron, a rowdy extrovert, take up with the single Emily Grierson in the first place? ” All these questions should be brought up in the class to get thoughts about what the relationship was truly like between Homer and Emily. It is also evident that Faulkner carries the theme of being isolated from society throughout this story. Emily lives for many years as a hermit. In the story the narrator comments, “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (Faulkner 184).
Emily’s father is partially to blame for her life as a recluse. The narrator says that, “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away” (Faulkner 186). Faulkner portrays Emily’s father as a intimidating possessive figure that is filled with control and dominance. “Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single” (Faulkner 185). Emily’s overprotective father keeps her from having a relationship with men by chasing them away.
Her father robs her from many of life’s necessities. S he misses out on being a normal woman, and her ability to be happy. In order to keep Homer by her side, Emily poisoned him. After Homer’s disappearance the front door was not used again by Emily. Article “reading between the the lines” suggested to ask “How does Faulkner imply that Emily was a recluse? ” Other questions that could be discussed are what may be the real reason why she was so isolated from the town? Rose For Emily illustrates the theme of decay in the town, the house, and in Miss Emily herself.
In class we would discuss all these aspects of decay. In this story, we see Emily much like the rose, an object of beauty and desire that soon begins to wither and die. As Emily grows older so does the town that she has lived in for her entire life. While she had once lived on one of the nicest streets in Jefferson, the street in now considered to be one of the worst in the town. It would seem that the street had aged and decayed with Emily. When she was young, Emily and her family were respected and known as some of Jefferson’s finest citizens. As Emily has grown older the town sees her in a different way.
In her old age she is seen as a monument to the past that is never seen outside of her house. All of the respect that her father had earned died with the old men and women of the town. The old ways of the town of Jefferson decayed and passed away with all of the men and women that had called it home. The house that Emily lives in was at one time one of the most beautiful homes in the whole town of Jefferson. In Emily’s youth the house was always well kept. As Miss Emily aged so did the house she lived in. The house became an eyesore for the entire town. With faded paint and an unkempt yard it even began to smell at one point.
The men of the old Jefferson would never tell a lady that her house smelled so they cured the odor themselves. It would seem that the house and Emily where connected in a way. Both of them had grown old and lost their splendor. The house was also looked at in the same way as Emily. They where looked at as a monument to the past. Emily had once been one of the most beautiful ladies in Jefferson. With her father alive no man dared to court her. As Emily grew older she began to decay and lose some of her looks. In her old age she became a fat and gray haired old women. It would also seem that her mind had decayed as well.
She had one love, Homer Barron, which the town had believed had left her. It is revealed at the end of the story that he in fact did not leave Miss Emily. Emily had poisoned Mr Barron and left his body in her bed. Emily’s mind had decayed to such a point that she was not aware of what was right or wrong. She could not even understand what was normal. The state of mind that she was in explains why she and the house had decayed to such a point. While Faulkner had many themes in “A Rose For Emily”, the theme of decay was the most prevalent throughout the entire story. The town of Jefferson, the house, and Emily all grew old.
Miss Emily lost her mind and her looks. The house lost the beauty it once held due to old age. The town of Jefferson changed and grew old. What had once been a nice southern town had decayed. William Faulkner truly wrote a wonderful story about an old women who loses her mind. “A Rose For Emily” shows the way in which we all grow old and decay. In the article “reading between the lines” it suggest to ask the question “How does Faulkner indicate that Emily lived in a rundown house in a declining neighborhood? ” Welcome and introduction Starr Lewis, Host Layered approach to teaching the short story Dewey Hensley, Presenter
Using observations to reveal character • Writer’s Notebook • Novels • Read-alouds • Children’s literature Synthesizing observations into a character • Draw • Write eight ways • Realize the character may change Focusing on conflict—”Dipping the Character in Paint” • Traditional conflicts • Sources of ideas for conflicts Three ways to develop plot or map • Plot line • Character wheel • Story hill Leads and point of view • True Story of the Three Little Pigs • Sample leads Focused revision • Asterisk method • Response groups • Questionnaire Using reading groups to provide feedback for climactic moment