Category Archives: William Faulkner

Power “In A Rose for Emily”

The theme of power is prevalent through out “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. Here are some examples.

When the city taxmen visit Emily’s house in an attempt to get her to pay taxes.

She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt. Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain.

Her voice was dry and cold. “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves.”

“But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn’t you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?”

“I received a paper, yes,” Miss Emily said. “Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson.”

“But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see We must go by the–“

“See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson.”

“But, Miss Emily–“

“See Colonel Sartoris.” (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!” The Negro appeared. “Show these gentlemen out.”

Emily just stands in the doorway while the taxmen talk among themselves and are taken aback when they finally notice her. She disregards basic manners by not offering the taxmen a seat or even greeting them. She is the first one to speak and speaks in a stern manner, saying only what is important and nothing more. The taxmen’s try to argue with Emily but Emily still holds on to her claims and kicks them out.

Another event of power in the story is when Emily is buying poison.

“I want some poison,” she said to the druggist. She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper’s face ought to look. “I want some poison,” she said.

“Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats and such? I’d recom–“

“I want the best you have. I don’t care what kind.”

The druggist named several. “They’ll kill anything up to an elephant. But what you want is–“

“Arsenic,” Miss Emily said. “Is that a good one?”

“Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma’am. But what you want–“

“I want arsenic.”

The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag. “Why, of course,” the druggist said. “If that’s what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for.”

Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up. The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn’t come back. When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: “For rats.”

Here we can see that Emily is incredibly assertive. She says the bare minimum and she says it firmly. In a futile attempt to recommend some poisons, the druggist is stopped before he can even finish his sentences. Emily wants to purchase one thing and one thing only: arsenic. The druggist reluctantly gives in but informs Emily that she must write down why she is buying the arsenic. With a stern look on her face, she and the druggist stare at one another. Finally, the druggist breaks and leaves to get the arsenic ready. He sends someone else to hand the package to Emily. With only a few words and a stare down, Emily had purchased a powerful poison.

These two passages highlight Emily’s power. She barely utters a word but she remains in control of the conversation at all times. She is unmoving in her convictions and remains strong when she is challenged and because of this, Emily always comes out on top.

The narrator in “A Rose for Emily”

“The narrator in “A Rose for Emily” is different than others we have encountered. What term would you use to identify the narrator? is it a reliable narrator? Use evidence from the story to show why you say reliable or not.”

So in the story “A rose for Emily” I was mislead by who was actually telling/narrating the story. We don’t really get who is the narrator unless we look deeply in what kind of words are used through the passage. Depending on whose eyes we are looking through, the point of view can actually be a bit different. So before we get into that, lets take a look at “The Story of An Hour”, it is told in third person. It can also been seen as Third Person omniscient, but the narrator only knows how Mrs. Mallard is feeling and no one else, due to the fact that all other characters are “flat characters”. Now going back to “A rose for Emily”, it would seem that the story is definitely not told from Emily’s perspective. It is mostly told from other people’s point of view, and how the saw the situation unfold.  For Example

“When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows–sort of tragic and serene.”

“We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off, but we believed that he had gone on to prepare for Miss Emily’s coming, or to give her a chance to get rid of the cousins.”

“Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.”

All of these quotes mentions the words “we” as in the people who either worked with her or saw her very frequently. We see the story through their eyes and through their thoughts. So due to that I kinda feel like the narrator is not that reliable. In the end of the story even after Emily’s death, we were told how “they” knew about there being “a room above the stairs which no one had seen in forty years” and that they saw a strand of gray hair. So after reading these quotes I am more inclined on saying that people who knew her quiet well and have been close to her were telling the story. The most reliable narrator would be First Person, or someone who is telling the story about themselves.

Reading all kinds of love on Valentine’s Day

To accommodate more discussion, we will continue discussing “A Rose for Emily” on Tuesday, 2/20. Please keep up with the two Charlotte Perkins Gilman readings, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Cottagette” so you finish them for Wednesday, 2/21.

When we think about “The Story of an Hour” and “A Jury of Her Peers,” what do we think about? what points of intersection are there?

oppressed wife

  • in “A Jury of Her Peers” we understand the ways that the men speak to the women as insulting

oppressive husband

husband’s death (?)

freedom: finding it, losing it

demographics and social status: class, age, gender

narration style

sympathy and empathy: within the stories and the reader’s empathy for characters

small event

pent up emotion and anger specifically

facilitated vs present character

*people outside never really know other than what they can see on the surface*

Minnie Foster vs Mrs. Wright–can this parallel Mrs. Mallard vs Louise. Loss of a first name in marriage.


Reading “A Rose for Emily”

First-person plural narrator: represents the whole town

Chronology: this is difficult to piece together, but all told from the point of Emily’s funeral

Short quiz on chronology: what happened when?

Homework posts on Lowe, Atwood, Glaspell, Chopin, and Faulkner

If you volunteered to post by end-of-day on Friday so that everyone can comment on your posts by 10:00am Monday, here are some ideas to get you started (choose one, or get inspired by one or two):

  • We really wanted to spend more time looking at the ending of Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” What do we understand about Mrs. Mallard’s desire for freedom in the story? Does she have freedom at the end of the story?
  • Think of the various details mentioned in Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers.” Point us to a few examples, including quotations from those passages. How do these examples become important details in the story? How do the men and women read these details specifically and details in general differently in “A Jury of Her Peers”?
  • Another way to consider the details in “A Jury of Her Peers” is to consider what the women do with details to understand the backstory as reading the scene; consider in a post the model for critical reading this short story presents. Alternatively, how is “There Was Once” a model for critical reading? What does the second speaker do with the Cinderella story, and how or to what extent is that something we should do when we read? What does it do in that story, and what could it do for us as we read critically?
  • If Margaret Atwood’s short story “There Was Once” and Anne Sexton’s poem “Cinderella” attempt to retell the fairy tale, what does Bia Lowe’s “I Always Write about My Mother When I Start to Write” do with fairy tales? We started discussing this in class. What aspects of fairy tales does it borrow, and what is the effect of this motif? Be sure to learn about what a motif is if you choose this option, and feel free to add it as your glossary entry for this week (but this only goes for one person, and the post’s author has priority!
  • What effect does the style of narration have on your experience of the plot or characters? Use two different styles to reflect on this, using any of the stories we have read this semester.
  • What connections do you see among the stories assigned from the start of the semester through Monday? Are there trends you can identify? Or contrasting situations/characters/styles that are worth noting in their difference? Be specific!
  • In thinking about William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” who is the narrator? is it a reliable narrator? Use evidence from the story to show why you say reliable or not.
  • What does gothic mean?  What is Southern Gothic, specifically? Wikipedia might be a good place to get a definition and explanation of what Southern Gothic is. How is  “A Rose for Emily” an example of this? You might add this term as your glossary entry word as well.
  • Finally, if you’re interested, argue for or against “A Rose for Emily” as a Valentine’s Day reading. What notion of love do you take away from this story?

These are just a few ideas that you might consider, and certainly not all of them will be addressed. I hope my suggesting them gives everyone ideas about other topics for discussion and other ways to read the short stories we have begun to cover in class. For your post, choose one of these topics, or venture off on your own topic, using any of these as a guide to make sure your topic is as focused. Use the texts to guide you, consider that your audience (mostly your classmates and me) will have read the same materials but might not have thought about them as much as you have or in the same way that you did, and enjoy sharing your ideas. On the nitty-gritty end of things, remember to include a title that reflects what you’re writing (it shouldn’t be able to apply to everyone’s post!), choose appropriate categories and tags (or add if you want a tag that isn’t there already), write at least 300 words, proofread, and publish! If there are links or media you want to include, please do.

Commenters: get ready! Everyone who isn’t writing a blog post will need to comment by 10:00am Monday, so make sure you’re ready with 100-150 words of insights and reactions to share with the class.

Feel free to comment on this post to ask questions or get clarification to understand this assignment better. I will answer, but feel free to answer questions for your classmates if you have the answer!