In William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, first-person narration is exercised in order to put emphasis on Emily Grierson, a hermit who has attracted the curiosity of the community and dominates the conversation and action of the city. The author uses an abundance of literary techniques in order to help project the story.
The first sentence of the story instantly informs the reader that “Miss Emily Grierson died.” Many of the events that ensue portray her earlier life, and are directed by the reader’s knowledge of her death. Through this, Faulkner does not take a direct approach in presenting the story but rather orchestrates time in order to expand the story through various decades; making this a story of development.
The seemingly biased narrator is a member of the same town as Emily, deeming them as one of the gossiping community members. Faulkner is able to portray this through the repetition of words such as “we” and “our.” By doing so, Faulkner is capable of constructing a character, without dialogue, who is close to Emily Grierson. By using these keywords, the narrator is able to express their thoughts and opinions, as well as those of the townspeople. This completely changes near the end of the fifth portion, when the narrator starts to address the townspeople as “they,” in reference to “the violent breaking down of the door.” This attempt to disconnect shows that the narrator may not agree with the acts of the townspeople. This low-key difference is swiftly altered back to “we,” but is used as a model to make clear that the narrator presented some kind of care for Emily Grierson.
Characterization also plays a crucial role in the growth of the story. Emily Grierson is seen through the eyes of the narrator, therefore all descriptions and facts about Miss. Grierson is biased. Although this story has many examples of symbolism, the example that is most dominant is the representation of the rose. In this, Emily Grierson is described as a rose, with plenty of thorns, and stuck inside all day to decay. It is shown through the text that Emily slowly starts to lose her sense of sanity. Going as far as to murder her husband and sleep next to his body. This is evidenced when Faulkner writes that “we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of ahead.”
In order to further progress the story, and build a connection with the reader, Faulkner uses foreshadowing to hint at the fact that Emily Grierson had been living with a dead man. The first example of foreshadowing is given in part two of the story when the house begins to have an awful odor “a short time after her sweetheart, the one we believed would marry her – had deserted her.’ This foreshadowing of Homer’s death is again shown in section three when Emily buys arsenic with no orthodox reason. This gives the reader key insight into the growth of the story and helps to develop the grotesque mood of the story. However, the actual mood of the story is not unraveled until the last section of the story, when the reader gains knowledge of the truth behind the disappearance of Homer Barron. The mood is primarily dark up to this point, but after “the breaking down [of] the door” the reader learns that “the man himself lay in bed.” After this resolution, the mood begins to change into a more and tragic one. One of the major themes of this story is the inability of Miss Grierson to allow change. It is evidenced through her unwillingness to pay taxes that Miss Grierson is stuck in the time period that Colonel Sartoris is in charge. This is also evidenced through her refusal to have a mailbox when postal delivery is first instituted. Through this, Faulkner is able to potently convey the deterioration of Miss Grierson. With the concoction of all of these elements, William Faulkner is able to progress the story in a manner that may not be chronological but still manages to make logical sense. The impact that this has on the reader is quite powerful, and without these devices, Faulkner would not have been able to smoothly capture the overall impact of this story.