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In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” Faulkner tells the story of Emily Grierson a daughter of a well to do family that struggles with her place in life and the expectations of those around her. At first look, the conflict seems to be between Emily and the townspeople that look in on her. However, as one reads through the exposition that is woven throughout it becomes clear that the conflict is more internal as Emily deals with the effects of her upbringing versus the societal expectations placed upon her. It seems that her childhood was not a pleasant one as she expresses no real grief for the passing of her father (Faulkner, 42).
Faulkner hints at possible events going on with Emily that neither the reader nor the townspeople get the full story on. This method drives rising action throughout. An example of this is when Emily goes to purchase poison from the druggist but refuses to disclose its intended use (Faulkner, 44). This causes speculation from others that point to her possibly committing suicide, but Faulkner keeps the reader in suspense as the poison’s true use does not become evident until the end of the story.
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All the hinting and speculation about Emily and her supposed husband or husband to be comes to a climax near the end of the story after Emily’s passing. The townspeople gain access to a sealed off room in Emily’s house. Here they find a body which one could surmise was that of her husband Homer Barron (Faulkner, 46). It’s unclear what caused Emily to murder him, but it probably ties back to her up bringing and possibly a fear of abandonment.
Faulkner utilizes suspense heavily throughout this story. He gives the reader enough to stay engaged and force emotion but keeps them in the dark on many details until the timing is right.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, edited by Michael Meyer and D Quentin Miller, 12th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s 2020, pp. 40-46.
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