Notes: "A Rose for Emily"
What is the point of view of the story and what purpose does it serve?
1st person (plural) peripheral observer. Since the narrator, although one of the townspeople, is an outsider to the central events in the story, he is aware of the true facts on a piecemeal and hearsay basis until the very end. His lack of direct information and his naive conjectures serve to create suspense and the horror that the story builds towards.
What is the attitude of the narrator toward Miss Emily?
The narrator (and townspeople) are ambivalent in their feelings towards Miss Emily. She is spoken of as being "dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse." Since she is a member of one of the "old" families in a tradition-bound culture with an aristocratic hierarchy, she is held in awe and respect by those of the lower classes such as the narrator. Because of her firmness of character, courage, and independence, she arouses admiration and respect in others; yet, since her actions are extremely strange, suggestive even of insanity, she is also regarded with a kind of sympathetic condescension. Thus she is both "looked up to" and "looked down upon."
What atmosphere is created early in the story, and how is this done?
It is one of decay and ruin, almost gothic in the degree of exaggeration. This is done through stressing the physical environment of Miss Emily. The odor of decay hangs about the old frame house "that had once been white with its cupolas, spires, and scrolled balconies," vestiges of a bygone era just as Miss Emily is a vestige of the old South with its aristocratic, genteel ways of intense pride. The street on which the house is situated had once been the most select one in town; now it harbors garages, gas pumps, and cotton gins. The remnants of Miss Emily's former life have been swallowed up in sordidness and decay.
What is the mood of the story and how is it established?
It is one of slowly building suspense and horror, built by...