Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

“When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years.”
We were recently told to read William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily in my Fiction class. Honestly, William Faulkner intimidates me, because I’ve read reviews of his novels and stream of consciousness keeps popping up. Stream of consciousness and I aren’t friends. We’re bitter enemies. I tried to keep in mind, though, that a short story probably won’t be that painful, and, when I looked up A Rose for Emily, I learned that it’s considered Faulkner’s most “accessible” work.

So, off I went and read the story. A Rose for Emily is about Emily Grierson, the last living descendant of the high and mighty Griersons, and the secret she harbored through the years until her death. It is told in a non-linear way, and, in fact, it begins with the last event in the narrative.

The short story clearly depicts how people lived in the South, but the real star, of course, is Miss Emily. Her father turned away all her suitors, thinking no one was good enough for THE Emily Grierson, and she ends up growing old alone after his death. When she finally encounters love, she does whatever she can to hold on to it.

For me, Emily Grierson is a pitiful character. Yes, she has wealth and unrivaled standing in the community, but, if you’re lonely, what can standing and money do for you? The story raised those questions in my mind, and blurred the line between right and wrong, between the selfish and the pitiful.

A Rose for Emily was an excellent sample of Faulkner’s writing.

You can read A Rose for Emily HERE.


Kristi said...

I'm terrified of Faulkner. It sounds like this short story might be a good way to start. What was your experience like reading it? Was it difficult?

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

@Kristi: The story gave me a lot to think about, but it was actually an easy and quick read. Quite fun. You should give it a try. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Emilee said...

I love Faulkner and A Rose for Emily is awesomely creepy.

JoAnn said...

The only Faulkner I've read is As I Lay Dying. I really enjoyed it, but had to keep checking sparknotes to make sure I wasn't missing anything. There are a couple more of his novels on my shelf, but I'm a little intimidated. Maybe a short story would boost my confidence... thanks for the link!

JessiKay89 said...

I may have to try this one. I have the worst HATE relationship with Faulkner, but I keep wanting to give him another try. This looks like the perfect place to start!

Jenny O. said...

I've tried reading other Faulkner works,and the only book I was able to complete was As I Lay Dying. I had to force myself through it the first time, then immediately starting skimming it again. I have to admit, I was puzzled--what was so great about this weird little book, and yet, 11 yrs later, it's stuck with me, though I've forgotten countless other novels. I just bought Faulkner's Uncollected Short Stories and will start that soon, maybe reading a short story a day. I did enjoy "A Rose for Emily." I agree with Emilee, and think it's pretty creepy. Almost everyone comes out of that story a little unnerved.

bibliophilica said...

Hi Darlyn,
I have A Rose for Emily on my list for my 2011 short story reading project (see my "deal me in selections page of my blog) and am looking forward to it even more now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Birdie said...

I love "A Rose for Emily"! If you like Faulkner enough to continue, I'd recommend Absalom, Absalom! It's got a frame narrative and occurs at multiple points in the past, but it's an excellent story.


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