In analyzing and understanding literature, one of the critical factors is the concept of point of view. It shapes the readers’ perception of the story, based on the attitude the narrator has toward the themes, and events described in the story. There are several types of the point of view concept. First, it depends on the one that is telling the story (first, second, or First-person); on the opposite hand, it's determined by the amount of the narrator’s awareness). This essay addresses the concept of point of view in “A Rose for Emily” – William Faulkner’s story. It’s a curious example of First-person because it is demonstrated below within the analysis. The narrator’s point of view in “A Rose for Emily” brings the readers closer to the related events on the one hand, and demonstrates his own mysterious nature on the opposite side.
Importance of Point of View during a Rose for Emily
Throughout the full plot, the narration occurs in person plural: ‘we’ is the pronoun Faulkner uses to stress that the events are related by an eyewitness or a full group of eyewitnesses (451-456). This ‘we’ represents a composite image of the town society and provides an account of not only Emily’s story but the history of several periods. The collective character of the narrator reveals itself in such phrases as “our whole town visited her funeral”, “we weren't pleased exactly”, “as is our custom”, “we believed”, “we remembered”, “we knew”, etc. (Faulkner 451-456).
The outward authority of such statements, along with the confident predictions of this composite image concerning Emily’s private life, creates a control of a know-all narrator who is farseeing enough to produce for the long-run course of events. The tone of this collective reaction to each little occurrence in Emily’s life suggests that the pronoun ‘we’ may indicate the community of town gossip who want everything done their way and are outraged if things move out of their control.
The outward authority of the collective narrator, which should generally look reliable and encourage the readers’ trust, is therefore shaken by the thought that this narrator could be a mere town gossiping, spreading the rumors just for the fun of it. Thus, the suspicious character of the narrator as a gossip questions the narrator’s opinion of Emily’s actions as weird and noncomplying.
Moreover, several small details within the story further complicate the mystery of the narrator’s personality. Within the majority of ‘we’ statements, Faulkner introduces such phrases as “people “people in our town … believed”, and “people were glad” (455). And here emerges a question: why should Faulkner use the word ‘people’ rather than the conventional ‘we’? Why is he employing a literary device that produces a message somewhat inconsistent? The clear answer is that this can be done to contrast the narrator with the remainder of the group.
Adding to the current contrast is the final scene of breaking into the key room in Emily’s house. For one thing, the narrator provides a foreshadowing by saying, “Already we knew that there was one room in this region above stairs which nobody had seen in forty years” (Faulkner 456) — how on earth did they comprehend it? In such light, the narrator appears to be someone introduced into Emily’s mystery.
For another thing, within the scene of breaking in, the narrator suddenly switches to the pronoun ‘they’: “They held the funeral on the second day,” “They waited until Miss Emily was decently within the ground” (Faulkner 456). Although the conventional ‘we’ reappears soon afterward, this sudden change in the narrator’s relationship with the town crowd cannot go unnoticed.
The difficulty of the narrator’s point of view in “A Rose for Emily” Analysis shows that the mysterious First-person narrator, who represents the town, intrigues the reader with the knowledge of intimate details and casual opposition to the remainder of the people. In summary, this feature has a crucial impact on the readers’ opinion of Emily since it suggests that she must not be seen as the way gossip is describing her and it requires a more detailed understanding of Miss Emily.
- Barnet, Sylvan, et al. Literature for Composition: an Introduction to Literature. Pearson, 2018.