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A Rose For Emily Essay

1360 words - 5 pages

William Faulkner begins his short story, “A Rose for Emily” with the funeral of the main character, Emily Grierson (30). Emily is a quiet woman. It is said that nobody has been in her house for ten years, excluding her servant (30). Supposedly, her house used to be the best one around. The town also has a different connection with Miss Grierson. She is the only person in the town who is not forced to pay taxes. For years the town neither makes her pay, nor harasses her with tax notification letters to pay her taxes, until now. The younger generations who work hard and remain loyal taxpayers are not thrilled by this and decide to visit Emily in an attempt to get her to pay her debt. They try to get her to believe the old plan will not work anymore, yet she blatantly refuses this idea and does not pay (30). Apparently, thirty years prior to this attempt, the tax collectors of the town have a strange encounter with the Grierson residence. Two years after her dad’s passing and the mysterious disappearance of her lover, a tax collector notices a pungent odor emanating from her home that becomes a stronger and stronger scent. This leads to many complaints from the townspeople. However, the authorities of the town do not want to have a confrontation with Emily, so, instead, “they broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings” (31). The smell eventually subsides “after a week or two” (32). People do not think anything of the smell anymore. They do not think about the cause of it either; they continue with their lives.
The story twists and tells about the time when a man by the name of Homer Barron comes to town. Barron is in town for a sidewalk-building development. Emily and Barron quickly establish a relationship with each other, and they seem happy. Emily is later seen at the local drugstore purchasing arsenic. The townspeople believe she is going to use it to kill herself because when purchasing arsenic, the law requires the customer to divulge its purpose. When the druggist informs her of this law, “Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up” (33). The townspeople deeply disprove of Barron and Emily’s relationship so in an attempt to end it, they write to Emily’s relatives from Alabama (33). They are worried about Miss Emily’s health and wellbeing. When her “blood-kin” (33) arrive, they just “…sat back to watch developments… [then] we [her relatives] were sure that they [Barron and Emily] were to be married” (33). She is then observed purchasing a man’s toilet set. On each silver piece were the letters H.B. (34). “Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing, including a nightshirt…” (34). When the sidewalk project is finished, Homer Barron vanishes. Nobody seems to know where he is, and he is soon forgotten. This leads back to the Emily Grierson’s funeral.
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