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A Rose For Emily Essay

818 words - 4 pages

William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" concludes with this line: "We saw a long strand of iron-gray hair." Its effects come from two features: the story's complex chronology and the voice of the narrator. There are many curious things about the narrator’s voice from the beginning to the end of the story. The narrator first avoids the identification of his/her sex, “Our whole town went, . . the men through a respectful affection. . .the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house" (). The narrator avoids the signaling of a particular generation, comprehending both the town's older citizens "Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it" () and its younger generations, "When the next generation . . . became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction" ().
If the narrator reported what he/she observed people doing then things would be easier. Certainly, this happens occasionally, "When . . . it got about that the house was all that was left to her, . . .people were glad" (). Knowledge of what had happened might be professed by the narrator. The narrator uses first-person plural to say what the people in the town observed, “When we saw her again, her hair was cut short" (). The narrator also gives the source sometimes, "Homer Barron was back in town. A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door" ().
The narrator’s impression is confusing byt the councilmen’s visit to Emily. The story switches to third-person plural, meaning the story is told from”their” perspective. "They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow" (); later, "they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the goldchain" (). The narrator never says if he/she is present; however he/she was either present or has become omniscient because of the great details.
It is easy to imagine the narrator as reporting a group consensus when he/she is speaking for the town, "at first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest" or "we believed that she was fallen" (), it is harder to imagine when, "We had long thought of them as a tableau" (). Can a group of people think of something "as a tableau"? A group could not have produced this way of thinking: "We did not say she was crazy...

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