A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily

by William Faulkner


WHEN Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant–a combined gardener and cook–had seen in at least ten years.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor–he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity. Not that Miss Emily would have accepted charity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.

When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came, and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call at the sheriff’s office at her convenience. A week later the mayor wrote her himself, offering to call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer went out at all. The tax notice was also enclosed, without comment.

They called a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen. A deputation waited upon her, knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier. They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow. It smelled of dust and disuse–a close, dank smell. The Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily’s father.

They rose when she entered–a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.

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.”


So SHE vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.

That was two years after her father’s death and a short time after her sweetheart–the one we believed would marry her –had deserted her. After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. A few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received, and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man–a young man then–going in and out with a market basket.

“Just as if a man–any man–could keep a kitchen properly, “the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons.

A neighbor, a woman, complained to the mayor, Judge Stevens, eighty years old.

“But what will you have me do about it, madam?” he said.

“Why, send her word to stop it,” the woman said. “Isn’t there a law? ”

“I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” Judge Stevens said. “It’s probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. I’ll speak to him about it.”

The next day he received two more complaints, one from a man who came in diffident deprecation. “We really must do something about it, Judge. I’d be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily, but we’ve got to do something.” That night the Board of Aldermen met–three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation.

“It’s simple enough,” he said. “Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don’t. ..”

“Dammit, sir,” Judge Stevens said, “will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?”

So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily’s lawn and slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings. As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol. They crept quietly across the lawn and into the shadow of the locusts that lined the street. After a week or two the smell went away.

That was when people had begun to feel really sorry for her. People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.

When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less.

The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.

We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.


SHE WAS SICK for a long time. 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.

The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks, and in the summer after her father’s death they began the work. The construction company came with riggers and mules and machinery, and a foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee–a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the riggers, and the riggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. Pretty soon he knew everybody in town. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group. Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable.

At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, “Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.” But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige– –

without calling it noblesse oblige. They just said, “Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should come to her.” She had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no communication between the two families. They had not even been represented at the funeral.


And as soon as the old people said, “Poor Emily,” the whispering began. “Do you suppose it’s really so?” they said to one another. “Of course it is. What else could . . .” This behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed: “Poor Emily.”

She carried her head high enough–even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness. Like when she bought the rat poison, the arsenic. That was over a year after they had begun to say “Poor Emily,” and while the two female cousins were visiting her.

“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.”


So THE NEXT day we all said, “She will kill herself”; and we said it would be the best thing. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, “She will marry him.” Then we said, “She will persuade him yet,” because Homer himself had remarked–he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks’ Club–that he was not a marrying man. Later we said, “Poor Emily” behind the jalousies as they passed on Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.

Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people. The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister–Miss Emily’s people were Episcopal– to call upon her. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again. The next Sunday they again drove about the streets, and the following day the minister’s wife wrote to Miss Emily’s relations in Alabama.

So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments. At first nothing happened. Then we were sure that they were to be married. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler’s and ordered a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said, “They are married.” We were really glad. We were glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.

So we were not surprised when Homer Barron–the streets had been finished some time since–was gone. 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. (By that time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily’s allies to help circumvent the cousins.) Sure enough, after another week they departed. And, as we had expected all along, within three days Homer Barron was back in town. A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening.

And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets. Then we knew that this was to be expected too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman’s life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die.

When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turning gray. During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning. Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man.

From that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years, when she was about forty, during which she gave lessons in china-painting. She fitted up a studio in one of the downstairs rooms, where the daughters and granddaughters of Colonel Sartoris’ contemporaries were sent to her with the same regularity and in the same spirit that they were sent to church on Sundays with a twenty-five-cent piece for the collection plate. Meanwhile her taxes had been remitted.

Then the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies’ magazines. The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good. When the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them.

Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out with the market basket. Each December we sent her a tax notice, which would be returned by the post office a week later, unclaimed. Now and then we would see her in one of the downstairs windows–she had evidently shut up the top floor of the house–like the carven torso of an idol in a niche, looking or not looking at us, we could never tell which. Thus she passed from generation to generation–dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.

And so she died. Fell ill in the house filled with dust and shadows, with only a doddering Negro man to wait on her. We did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro

He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.

She died in one of the downstairs rooms, in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight.


THE NEGRO met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed, sibilant voices and their quick, curious glances, and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again.

The two female cousins came at once. They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men –some in their brushed Confederate uniforms–on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.

Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced. They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it.

The violence of breaking down the door seemed to fill this room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights, upon the dressing table, upon the delicate array of crystal and the man’s toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.

The man himself lay in the bed.

For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.

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.

[text taken from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/wf_rose.html]

On Teatime With Spinsters and Drowning Traditions

On Teatime With Spinsters and Drowning Traditions

by Damaris Lliso

And I’ll tell you this much, the only reason why I’d ever go down to this rotting town full of the prim living past their prime is because I need to get away.

Chased out of town by some rabble-rousers who had it out for me, I swear, nothing ever stays quiet, even in a big city like Baltimore. Disproportionate retribution is what it was—get into a few disagreements, a shouting match here and there, he said this and I did what? And suddenly they see it fit to back me into a corner so deep I had no choice but to turn my whole damn life upside down.

So now I’m here past the border separating us from them. It was well known to everyone that I never thought much of the folks down south, but hell, I figure they wouldn’t think much of me either, not with my skin or my mannerisms or my family filled to the brim with Union vets. Can’t help who I am, and if they refuse to see past that then I can give them just the same. But let’s look at the positives: at least I managed to find work.

So I’m not expecting much. I’ll get what I get. I just came into town yesterday, and I still haven’t been out to see much. Don’t quite care to, only problem is work starts the day after tomorrow and I hardly know where the hell I am. Apparently where I’m to meet the others isn’t too far from where I’m staying now, but I know I gotta get to exploring this place sooner or later. I’d rather later, but I’ll do it now.

The world is damn bright outside, and mighty hot. The roads are dusty and hazy, enough to make a perfectly well man go blind, but I suppose I’m here to fix that now, aren’t I? Paving the roads and such. They don’t even have paved roads here! But I’m walking down now and folks are still giving me the eye. A few of them nod in acknowledgement and I nod back, but all the same, I have yet to feel too welcome. Bein’ looked down upon by folks who ain’t even got their roads paved, what a trip.

As I walk along, the road starts emptying out. Up in the distance there’s this big house you can tell once belonged to someone great, someone whose wealth was built upon the backs of others. I get closer and I see there’s this woman sitting up on the porch, all alone, looking out into nothin’… or maybe not, maybe she’s seeing it all. Who knows, I’m not inside her head.

But mother of God, is she a beaut. Gorgeous skin, wavy chestnut colored hair and a figure to die for, and I’m wondering wow, does she have a husband? But I already know the answer to that one, cause looker or not, it’s obvious she’s just past her prime, maybe around her early thirties or so. Northern girls marry young—Southern belles, even younger. She’s probably already popped out a few kids. She’s probably on that porch right now waiting for her husband to come home from work. She’s probably got a life wound up so tight that she wouldn’t ever give someone like me a second glance.

But it fees like hours that I’ve been starting at her like this, and occasionally she’ll turn her head up towards the sky and her lips will move, almost like she’s mumbling up something towards the sky. She bats her eyes like she’s half asleep, like her world is a dream and all of us, we’re nothing more that what’s in it. Her long, bony fingers reach up and she touches her collarbone real delicate. The wind rushes past her.

And she’s looking at me. She’s looking at me and past me and she smiles in that dreamy way of hers. She drags her fingers through her hair.

Man, oh man, this broad. She’ll be the end of me, mark my words.


I’ll admit it. I was wrong.

This town is a few types of alright! Everyone here knows everybody else and after work, they all love to follow me down to the bar. And all I gotta do to keep all eyes on me is start reminiscing about Baltimore. North or not, these are the types of folks you can tell have never been anywhere. They love hearing my stories.

Especially the younger guys! They crowd around me and hang off my every word, and some of them I can swear get a little too close, if you get what I mean. Not that I have any moral objections, but that’s what got me in trouble in the first place. When I came down here I told myself, as much as I would hate it, that I’d have to leave that life in another place and time. Well, they ain’t makin’ it easy, I’ll tell you that much.

So anytime one of those guys comes too close for comfort, I start thinking about that woman on the porch. I’ve asked around, and apparently her name is Emily. From what I’ve been told, she is as old as she looks, but joy o’ joy! she’s never been married. Her old man died a couple of years ago, but while he was still alive, he didn’t let anyone so much as look at his daughter, let alone marry her. I figure her to still be a virgin, still filled with girlhood dreams. Seeing as she’s all alone in that huge house of hers, she’s probably been aching for some man to come and sweep her off her feet. I’ve come across spinsters before, and I’ll tell you, they’re all the same.

So I leave her roses. Every night, late enough so that she has to be asleep, I sneak right on up and tape one to her door. I don’t know why I do it. I can’t be this girl’s savior. I’ll never be the marrying type. But it can’t hurt to bring a little sunshine into someone’s life, right?

Tonight feels different.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something’s off. The air feels different, not the same as always, and I’m trying to write it off but somehow, I just can’t. All day it’s been like this. Maybe I just stood out too late last night. Yeah, that must be it. Maybe all I need it some rest. I tell the boys down at the bar that I’m leavin’ early.

No, Homer, no. Don’t go, my temptations say.

But I tell ‘em, no boys, I gotta go. They all look so disappointed, but I try and ignore it. This creeping feeling, it’s got a grip on me, and I swear if I don’t get some peace from it soon I’m likely to start screaming and crashin’ around like a madman. Sure, they’d probably just write it off as me being a silly Northerner, but why would I willingly debase my region like that?

So I leave. I start walkin towards the direction of my place when I remember, damn. Emily. I gota leave a rose for her. I’ve made a habit of leaving her one every night for the past few weeks and if I stop, even for tonight only, I know it’ll shatter her little heart. This is probably the most attention she’s gotten from a man in her whole life. I can’t just screw her over by now coming through.

I turn back around and start walking towards Emily’s house. The roads are dark and empty, and I can hardly see past my own two feet. I narrow my eyes, try to hone in my senses.

I’m getting close to that one house I always steal my roses from. This older widow with her little lady garden, she never even notices a thing. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her, right? As I’m walking past, I snatch up a rose, never breaking stride. The thorns dig into my hand a little, but I ignore it.

I’m getting close to Emily’s door. Everything’s all dark, all her lights are out. It ain’t even past 10 and she’s already asleep. Spinsters, sheesh. I get up to the front of her house and, since I got no tape with me, I pick up the doorknocker real gentle and place the rose there. I turn on my heel to leave.

“You’re early tonight.”

Damn, I nearly jump out of my skin at the sound of that. I turn my head up to where the sound came and there’s Emily, sticking her head out the window, leaning up against the frame.

She knew all along. She knew the whole damn time and wow, that’s as romantic as it is creepy.

I open my mouth, but no words come out. That creepin’ feeling is stronger than ever. I think she may be smiling.

“Would you like some tea?” she waits a moment for me to respond, before deciding for me. “I’ll have Tobe make you some tea.”

“Your husband?” I ask, all stupid. I know damn well she’s never been married, why’d I ask that? But these southern broads, you know, they all have secret lives on the down low. Tobe could be her secret lover-man or something. But I couldn’t even get away with it up in the city; she’d have to have some backbreaking skill to hide something like that in a place like this.

Despite my speculation, I can almost feel her shaking her head. “He’s the help.”

He’s the help? He’s the help! Joy o’ joy!

“Give me a moment, I’ll be right down,” she says.

Spinsters. How desperate can you get?


Emily is such a trip.

Silk hiding steel, that’s what she is. One hundred percent. She makes it a point not to hide what we’ve got goin’ on, doesn’t give any types of damns over it. Every Sunday, we go around town together and this is her, holding her head up high, her nose pointed up in the air like she’s looking down on everyone else instead of the other way around. I see the way folks look at us. Seeing us together, they can’t hardly stand it.

The boys down at work and at the bar, they ask me:

“What you doing with that old spinster, anyway?”

“Don’t you know how strange she is?”

“There’s a reason why she’s alone.”

And I tell ‘em, none of your business, I know, and because her old man wouldn’t entertain the notion of his little girl growing up. Is that all, or…?

I know people talk to her, too, whisper in her ear even worse about me. She never wants to tell me exactly what they say to her, but what she fails to realize is I’m savvier than I let on. I know damn well what they say, that no matter which way they word it, it all leads back to the same deal: I’m from another world, and I’m no good for her. She doesn’t care, and hell, the idea of people talking about me doesn’t quite make me as mad as it should.

I guess you could say she’s my woman now. Always wanted one of those. I always gotta remind myself, women are special and they need a different type of treatment; I can’t go treating her like a man, it ain’t right.

But I swear, she sure does treat me like a man would treat his broad. Sometimes. At least when it comes to all the gifts she gives me. I stole roses for her, and in return she gives me a buggy, along with a bunch of other things I could never hope to afford on my own. She tells me not to worry about it.

“Money is no object,” she tells me, with a wink. Her saying that makes me all warm and gets me riled up at the same time, it’s the queerest thing.  Everything about her makes me topsy-turvy!


What gets to me the most is that she never wants me to leave.

Time marches on, and every day she gets more and more clingy. First, it started off with our Sunday drives: she told me she just wasn’t satisfied with only seeing me once a week anymore. To satisfy her, I started skipping out on going to the bar a few times a week so I could go visit her instead. But then a few times a week turned into every loving day of my goddamned life, and when it comes time for me to leave she yells at me to stay, stay, stay, she’ll miss me too much! I end up sleeping over more often than not, but then when I try and bed her she says no, no, she’s not like that. And that’s when I feel like throwing myself on the floor in frustration because this broad wants to have it her way, always.

She doesn’t seem to realize that I have a life of my own, too. Ain’t like we married. I’m starting to think I might wanna leave, but something inside me whispers, you better not.

I may be in a bit over my head.

I go over to Emily’s, like always, but today is different. She’s leaning against the door, her pretty little mouth twisted up into a bitter frown, and right soon as I get up to her she spares all greetings and says, “You mustn’t come visit me for the next three days.”

Joy o’ joy! I finally get a break!

She explains further. “A few of my relatives will be visiting me, and I don’t want them seeing you here. If you think the town thinks ill of you for seeing me, ha! You don’t want to know how these women will view you.”

She keeps talking, but I’m already thinking of how I’m gonna spend these next few days off.


“The pavement gig is almost done…” one of the boy’s grunts my way.

He keeps on talking, but I barely hear him. Today’s the last day of my vacation, and after two days prowlin’ around town, chasing skirts, they decided we should take it slow on this last day. I suggested we go fishing, something I haven’t gotten to do since I was a boy. My old man used to take me. He made his living off of fishing, and thinking back I’m sure he was sick of the water and of tryin’ to catch those damn things, but he always made time to take me out to his worksite whenever he had the odd day off. We’d wake up at three in the morning, get all our supplies up and ready, and then we’d spend the whole day out on the open water. And on these trips, we’d take the opportunity to bond and talk about life and its meaning and ‘why are we here’ and all that garbage that my life’s since run out of room for. He made all that nonsense seem so important.

When I wasn’t no older than fourteen years old, he got into a physical scuffle with one of the guys he worked with, and the bastard knocked my pops one good on the side of the head, rendering him immobile. And then—then—the son of a bitch couldn’t just leave it at that. He pushed him over the side of the boat. My old man couldn’t swim back to shore. They never found his body.

I wonder what it was like for him, drowning. He had to have seen the reaper coming, had to have known he couldn’t get out of it this time. He must’ve been terrified.

“You listening, Homer?”

“What’d you say?”

“Said the pavement job is almost done. Where you headed off to after this?”

“Don’t be stupid,” another one of the boys answers. “He’s getting’ hitched with Emily ‘soon as the job is done, ain’t ya! Move into that ol’ haunted mansion of hers!” he slaps my knee all jolly-like, and it takes everything in my heart, soul and mind not to punch him in the throat.

“Be quiet,” I mumble instead.

“What’s the matter? You aren’t thinking about leaving ol’ Emily, are you?”

“Perhaps he’s thinking of taking her up to Baltimore.”

I shake my head. “I’m ain’t goin’ back to Baltimore.”


“Never.” I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Keep this between us, alright? Emily is… God in heaven, how do I word this? She’s—“

“Too clingy?”

“Driving you bonkers?”

“Clinically insane?”

“Tries to murder you every time you try an’ leave ‘er house?”

“Come now, boys,” I grin, “I ain’t dead yet.”

“If she’s really makin’ you feel so down, just dump ‘er!”

You better not.

“That’s right. You aren’t married, you don’t need to forsake your entire life for her. The decision is yours, whether or not to continue this relationship.”

No, it’s not.

I shake my instincts away. “You’re right.” I spit into the water. “I don’t owe Emily a damn thing!”
One of the boys lets out this sad, ornery sounding laugh. “You do owe her one thing. You ought to at least break up with her properly, and give her a decent goodbye.”

I mull it over in my head. I proper breakup, a decent goodbye. I shrug. “Sure, why the hell not?”

You’re going to wish you hadn’t done that.

I’m walking up to Emily’s front door, and I’m expecting to have to knock like I always do, like any decent man living in a sane world, when all of a sudden Emily comes rushing out. Broad nearly tackles me down with her bear-strength hug of death.

“Homer!” she cries out, all dramatic. “I missed you!”

I pat her on the back. The spinster ain’t gonna make this one easy on me.

She drags me inside, leads me on and on until we’re in the living room. We sit down on one of the couches.

“Tobe! Tobe!” her man-servant comes shufflin’ on in. “Bring us some tea, will you? And brew Homer’s with the special blend I made for him.”

“Right away, Miss Grierson.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Special blend?”

She chuckles and waves me off a bit. “I remember how you told me your back was aching, so I bought some special herbs for you from the market. I don’t want to see you in pain, ever.”

Oh, wow.

She gives me a quick peck on the lips. “How did you spend the three days we were separated? Counting down the minutes, as I was?”

I try and smile. I know it must look painful from her end. “I tried to occupy my mind. Spent some time with the boys and whatnot…”

She frowned, and touched my shoulder. “Are you alright? Something on your mind?”

I take a deep breath—

You. Better. Not.

“Emily, my… my work here is almost done…”
She nods. “I’m aware.”

“And you know how it is for men like me. Once the job is done, I gotta get goin’ to the next work site.”

“I know. So…” she took a look around. “I suppose I’ll be able to carry a few of my things with me, perhaps sell the rest.” She looked back at me. “Do you have at least a general idea of where we’ll be headed?”


“I’ll need to let my relatives know,” she goes on, like her entire plan is anywhere near okay. “They’ll most likely disown me, but it’ll be alright so long as we’re togeth—.”

“Emily!” I shout. She stops talking, and now she’s looking at me with those eyes of hers. Damn, damn, damn. “You ain’t comin’ with me. I’m going alone. This… is where the road ends, for you and me.”

Her bottom lip quivers a little. “Please don’t,” she whispers.

“Don’t make this any harder than it’s gotta be.”

“I want to marry you. I want to be with you forever.”

“Emily, I ain’t the marrying type. I can’t be your savior. You gotta let me go, for both our sakes.”

She looks at me for a long time; it feels like hours and hours. Her eyes narrow, just the tiniest bit. She’s looking at me and past me and…

Tobe comes in with the tea. “Here’s yours, Miss Grierson,” he places her mug in front of her, then turns to me. “And for you, Master Barron.”

“That’s alright,” I tell him, getting up from my seat. “I gotta get goin’ anyway.”

“Please, Homer! At least… stay with me these last few moments. One final cup of tea.”

Run run run run run run run ru—

“Okay. Just one.”

She smiles in that sweet, wide way of hers and it almost makes me regret what I just did. But I tell myself, I did it for me. I own my life; I have the final say in what happens in it.

I take a sip. It’s bitter as hell. My lips pucker up and Emily laughs, despite the situation.

“Drink it all, sweetie.” Who in the world ever called their ex sweetie? “The herbalist told me the faster it’s consumed, the stronger the effect.”

“I never heard anything like that.”

“Trust me.”

I think about it. Trust her? Do I trust Emily? She may be clingy and strange as hell, but the girl never did anything that really sent me over the edge. I put the mug to my lips and take two large gulps, swallowing them down before the taste can get to me. She smiles and nods. Go on, go on.

You’ll get what you get.

Even as I’m finishing the tea, I’m startin’ to feel a little off. It’s different from the creeping feeling… no, no, this time, the world is definitely spinning.

I think Emily might be saying something, I can hear the sound of her voice but I can’t make out… almost… not quite. I try and take a step forward, heading for the door. If I can make it to the door, I’ve made it outside, and from there I can go anywhere. My life is mine. My life is—

I stumble forward and fall straight on my face. Emily is laughing, that I don’t need words for that. There’s something different about her voice now. It’s higher than usual, way higher but more sinister. Almost squeaky. Wholly demonic.

I try and take a deep breath but woah, all I can feel is a rushing gurgle running through my chest. I take in about half the amount of air I need. I try again, and it’s even harder, so I cough to get out whatever’s got itself stuck in my chest. Is this what it feels like to drown? My vision’s gone real blurry but I can still make out the bright, bright red of what comes out of my mouth. I try again. No improvement.

Someone turns me onto my back. I can make out her outline. Tall and willowy, with her gorgeous skin and wavy chestnut hair and a smile that could rip the skin off any living man. She cackles. Makes the same sound and jerking movement over and over and over and over and it’s like my brain is a record gone broke. I try and scream, but all that comes out of my mouth is more of that warm liquid I know with all my soul is a bright ruby red. It trickles down the side of my cheek.

Was it worth it?

Another figure comes into my line of vision. Tobe. He takes my arms and starts dragging me away, past the hallway. I turn my head to the side, and there’s the door. It’s closed.

You’ll never know.



William Faukner’s “A Rose for Emily” tells the story of a young southern woman in the early 20th century who, while leading a rather peculiar life, murders the man that she loves and keeps his body in her home for more than 40 years, in order to keep him with her forever. The story is told through the rarely used 2nd person narration (implied to be the collective voice of the community in which the woman lives). And while this offers a unique perspective to how the events of the story play out, it leaves just as many questions as it does answers, concerning both the titular Emily and Homer (the man that she murders). In order to shed some light on the two, for my retelling I chose to shift the narration from 2nd person objective to 1st person, from Homer Barron’s point of view. Though the original story offers the perspective of the townspeople and sheds some light on what the opinion of the group can drive a young woman to do, this retelling provides both a possible explanation as to why Emily did what she did, as well as an insight into the relationship which existed between Emily and Homer.

Though the works differ in a number of ways, they both tie together similarly in a few key elements. One being the presence of dust: Emily’s home is described as being close off and dank “…they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs” (Faukner); in the retelling, Homer observes that a layer of dust seems to have settled upon the entire town “The roads are dusty and hazy, enough to make a perfectly well man go blind…”. This transforms the house into a microcosm of the town at large. Emily’s home is dark, dank, dusty, and reeking of decay, while the town itself is not much better (though, the townspeople like to believe the contrary). Another example in which the retelling illuminates a specific detail of the original can be seen in the (rather ambiguous) line regarding Homers perceived preferences: “…Homer himself had remarked—he liked men,”(Faulkner) which, though a modern lenses, hints to a sexual preference for the same gender. However, considering the time period in which the original was written, the line can be just as easily interpreted to mean that Homer simply preferred the plutonic companionship of men. Through my retelling, I chose to interpret the line through a modern lenses, not to disregard Faulkner’s likely intention, but to bring forth a possible explanation as to why Homer is in the south in the first place: “Especially the younger guys! They crowd around me and hang off my every word, and some of them I can swear get a little too close, if you get what I mean. Not that I have any moral objections, but that’s what got me in trouble in the first place.”, the line implying that he did indeed pursue relationships with men, but was discovered and chased away from his community. One more important instance in which both the original and the retelling are the same comes from the buggy that Emily and Homer drive around in on Sundays’. In the original, not much is said about it, but because the retelling is from Homers perspective, a possible explanation can be offered: “I stole roses for her, and in return she gives me a buggy”. This makes sense, as Homer, a day laborer and implied drifter, most likely wouldn’t have the money to splurge on much of anything, let alone a buggy.

Along with the similarities, several liberties have also been taken to allow for the story to be at it’s most believable. One such instance is in how Homer and Emily first meet. It is never explicitly revealed in the original, because the style of narration prevents it. However, now from Homer’s point of view, the narrator can say how they met with the utmost certainty “so I leave her roses. Every night, late enough so that she has to be asleep, I sneak right on up and tape one to her door… I turn my head up to where the sound came and there’s Emily, sticking her head out the window, leaning up against the frame. She knew all along.” This scenario not only provides a possibility, but it also ties back in to the title of the story, adding just a but more to an already symbolically-packed title. Another instance in which the retelling takes some liberties is in Homer describing the way in which his father died: “He pushed him over the side of the boat. My old man couldn’t swim back to shore; he died.” Though Homers father isn’t mentioned in the original story at all and therefore has no significance in it, I wanted to tie his father’s death back to his own, as they both do end up drowning (the father out at sea, the son in his own blood). And one last significant liberty which is taken the “voices” which Homer hears, his “intuition” which serves to continuously warn him through the retelling (“You better not”). The voices can be interpreted in any number of ways: they’re Homer’s conscious speaking to him, they could be audio hallucinations, or they could be of supernatural origin. The voices are there to foreshadow Homer’s eventual demise.

Though both the original story “A Rose for Emily” provided a work of insight into the workings of a broken southern town past its prime, this retelling provides insight into the workings behind the story which was so greatly influenced by the whims of society. In my efforts to retell the story, I tried to maintain a level of believability, a way for the two stories to be connected in a plausible way. But I also sought to create a level of separation, so that in this retelling, a new dimension could be added to the story proper.

The Day Mr. Grierson Died

The Day Mr. Grierson Died


“Your tea sir ” I placed the tea on the table, Mr. Grierson was still on his bed. Then I gave tea to Miss Emily and went out to the market. I came back from the market and went to clean Mr. Grierson’s room. Tea was still on the table as I left it and Mr. Grierson was still sleeping. “Sir sir” I called it loud, I ain’t got no response from him. Cold air passed over my head. I nervously shook him “Sir, sir ”, he was still irresponsive.

I quickly ran to Miss Emily, “Miss Emily” breathing heavily I called.

“What happened Tobe? “ She calmly asked.

“Mr. Grierson…”

“What happened to father?” She screamed.

“Mr. Grierson ain’t no responding,” I said in a panic voice.

“Go call the doctor” and she rushed to the room.

Doctor came and announced him dead. “No, my father is not dead” Miss Emily shouted holding Mr. Grierson’s arm. In few hours, the news reached everyone’s ear.  One by one people started calling home and some paid their visit as a custom, but Miss Emily answered all of them same  “My Father is not dead”.  She declined the visitors and telephone calls.

“Tobe, make sure no body disturbs my father, he needs rest. These people don’t understand, my father is sick; he is not dead. He just needs some rest.”

“Sure Miss Emily” I replied her in a shaky voice.

There was nothing I could do; I just followed the orders otherwise stood and watch. I was just a servant. That whole day she stayed with the dead body of Mr. Grierson. I was worried; she was going crazy. Soon the whole town started talking about Miss Emily. The next day ministers and doctors again tried to convince her but they were unsuccessful. Finally on the third day, town decided to take some action and gathered in front of the house. People started shouting outside and authorities warned Miss Emily.

“Miss Emily please let us enter the house. It’s against the law to keep the dead body. We have to take some action against you if you do not cooperate with us.”

Tears ran through Miss Emily’s cheeks. “She came out of the trauma,” I said to myself. She opened the door and authorities took the body out for the final ritual. As the people were taking out the body from the house, Miss Emily cried out loud, “Don’t take my father, I need him.”

“Don’t take him please”

Her tears didn’t stopped for days.  I hadn’t seen Miss Emily so sad. She just sat on the couch and looked through the window. She kept herself alone. She didn’t talk with anybody. I was the only person coming in and out of the house otherwise the house looked lifeless. When I used to go out in the market, people used to ask me about the Miss Emily.

“How is Miss Emily doing Tobe?”

What happened to Miss Emily? Why is she not answering our phone? Is she alright?”

But I ain’t answer no body. I kept quiet, did my thing in the market and returned home. Miss Emily was in great depression. She had lost her support. She was like a half dead body, didn’t ate well, stayed hours on the couch and sometimes hours staring at the empty room of Mr. Grierson. Slowly Miss Emily began to fall sick.

“Miss Emily you need to see a Doctor”

“No Tobe, I am all right. I just need some rest and time for myself.”

Like I said before, there was nothing I could do. Just follow the orders.





In the story “A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner, Miss Emily is a mysterious character who displays unbalanced and strange behaviors to the world. Her identity is locked inside the four walls of the house where no one have accessed for more than forty years. She demanded to live her life in her own terms and conditions: She didn’t pay the tax; she refused to put the house number given by federal mailing service and she even denied to give reason for buying poison although it was required by law. At the end of the story when Miss Emily died, a shocking image of her was reveled. She was found living with dead body, which leaves lot of questions unanswered about her character. The story is narrated in second person objective where the narrator is the collective voice of the town. The narrator of this story does not have access to any of the character’s mind nor he has access inside the house of Miss Emily. So in the story lots of information are missing and questions are unanswered for the readers. This is one of the reason I choose this mysterious story “ A Rose for Emily” to retell. Retelling this original story through a different character of the story would make readers to see this story in different way. The new narration has different setting and plot for the story. Among the various characters of the story, I selected Tobe (Miss Emily’s servant) to be the narrator of my story. The autodiegetic narration of Tobe has the access inside Miss Emily’s house, so this narration includes her reaction on her father’s death and the activities inside the house.

Tobe is a silent character in the story; he never speaks and just appears in few scenes of the story. But he is a very important character who can put light on dark side of the story because he is the only person who has the access inside the house; he is the connection between the inner and the outer world of Miss Emily. Tobe witnessed everyone’s death inside that house; from the death of Mr. Grierson to the death of Miss Emily he was there. He even lived along the wired life of Miss Emily because I think he cared about Miss Emily. So, he disappeared from the house after the death of Miss Emily.

Retelling the story “A Rose for Emily” and the original story definitely shares main plot of the storyline but the story by Tobe focuses more inside of the house activities where as the original story focuses the activities that took place outside of the house. The main context of the story is to portrait Miss Emily but when we do not have access inside the world of Miss Emily, it is very hard to narrow down the points. In the retelling of the story we are able to enter the world of Miss Emily, which helps us to see the story in different way. No body knew how Miss Emily reacted on her father’s death, how she used to live isolated those many years and how Tobe managed to live in such an abnormal situation. If this was the retelling of the entire story then we could have got the answers for these questions and other unclear statements; but I selected just a small scene from the original story to retell it. I picked up the scene where Emily’s father dies. I particularly chose this scene to narrate because I think this is the time when everything started falling for Miss Emily. She lost her only support in the world but the original story is unable to give details on her reaction and her feelings. “When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper she become humanized.”  Tobe retells the same incident in depth where the readers can actually feel the pain of Miss Emily, ‘“No, my father is not dead” Miss Emily shouted holding Mr. Grierson’s arm.’ Only the sentence “shouted holding Mr. Grierson’s arm” describe the inner pain of Miss Emily, which was missing from the original story. Not only Miss Emily’s reaction but the retold story also adds Tobe’s reaction when he first found Mr. Grierson dead. “Tea was still on the table as I left it and Mr. Grierson was still sleeping. “Sir sir” I called it loud, I ain’t got no response from him. Cold air passed over my head. I nervously shook him “Sir, sir ”, he was still irresponsive.” This reaction from Tobe creates an interesting background before they found out about Mr. Grierson. In the original story we are then told that Emily did not had any grief on the face and she decline to give the dead body of her father as she think her father is not dead. “Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days” Reading this sentence it is very hard for us to think why she behaved like this but when we read the same incident from Tobe’s point of view, we can see how she took her father’s death. “Tobe, make sure no body disturbs my father, he needs rest. These people don’t understand, my father is sick; he is not dead. He just needs some rest.” These sentences from Emily’s mouth explain that she is in trauma of her father’s death, so being mentally restless she is not able to face the reality and avoiding it. Tobe was the only person who faced the uncomfortable time of Miss Emily very closely but the original narration just did not counted him. This skipped part comes out when Tobe describes his thoughts and reaction in his own narration, ‘“Sure Miss Emily” I replied her in a shaky voice. There was nothing I could do; I just followed the orders otherwise stood and watch. I was just a servant. That whole day she stayed with the dead body of Mr. Grierson. I was worried; she was going crazy.’ Tobe cared about Miss Emily and wanted to help her to recover from trauma but he was unable to do anything for her. He could not even bring out his emotions because he was tide with the title of a servant. So he just kept following the orders.

Just retelling the small scene from the original story somewhat changed the image of Miss Emily. “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house” Miss Emily was portrayed as a lifeless human but Tobe’s narration portrayed her as a normal woman who has the feelings like others as she cried and shouted for her father. Now I am very positive that retelling the entire story from Tobe’s point of view would definitely make the story more interesting and less mysterious.

A Letter From Tobe

A Letter from Tobe


To the Town of Jefferson:

Assuming these thoughts will matter to you now although they seem too late, this release has been a long time coming and hopefully your mind will be as free as mine if you accept what I give. I’ve struggled everyday of my life after Ms. Emily. Living with Emily was more work for me than the actual work she had me do. Now this is not an implication that she treated me terribly, but getting to understand her psyche was difficult to take in; but it also awakened a big sense of sympathy within me too.

My devotion to Ms. Emily has caused me much loneliness, I’ve found no reason to laugh or smile. I’ve never been too fond of conversation anyhow and being Ms. Emily’s permanent worker didn’t allow me to be very social. Nights were somewhat darker than normal, and the days were always cold even in the high temperatures of summer. One day Ms. Emily had me waiting outside for her and a stranger asked me for directions. I opened my mouth to speak and realized it was not possible. I tried so hard and at that moment I realized that my voice had withered. I could only motion to the stranger, much to my displeasure. I didn’t know that it was possible for me to lose my voice from not using it.

I don’t even know if Ms. Emily realized that I couldn’t speak. I don’t know if she would care. She was in her own world. We had never once spoken to each other. She spoke at me and I did what was needed to be done. I was hired by her father, Mr. Grierson, many years before his death. The details of that are not clear now but I clearly remember his intention. He didn’t just want me to be a servant to his beloved daughter, but to protect her.  There was a mental withdrawal once he passed away. She was not herself for a long time, and who would be? Town folk felt that her father was too protective and  careful, but he was a good man, and he was a father to her; a real good father. I was already employed to be her helper but at the time I really wanted to put extra care into anything I did for her. I noticed she was changing. Her demeanor was slightly depressing, and I questioned her habits sometimes.

There were incidents, however where I felt her moments of mental torment had gone to extremes. On a night in the fall a year after her father died she had me go with her to a cemetery. I don’t know if she knew or not but it wasn’t the same one where her father was buried. She stood in front of a grave site and eventually kneeled in front of the tombstone. I kept my distance from her a bit, but I could see her very clearly. She got closer to the ground and it looked as if she was trying to dig into the ground. I was sure my eyes were deceiving me and I reacted late, I ran toward her but an officer in the distance had noticed her before me and got there quickly. We helped restrain her as she was hysterical and in tears. As we were leaving she blew kisses to the tombstone. That might have been the first detection I had of her necrophilia.

I’m sure you want to know about Homer Barron too. Now there’s not much I can tell you about him. I know as much as you know about who he is. Emily loved him, or maybe the idea of him; a male figure she could connect with intimately. She needed that male figure in her life, but in a sense her feelings were unrequited. It was this slight rejection that made her want to do something extreme. She wasn’t extreme by habit, but she was more of a cause and effect type of person. Her father not being there was like a missing puzzle piece that she was trying to replace, but instead she ended up jumbling it even more. This was when Emily started doing drastic things like getting arsenic rat poison to kill this man. I was only able to witness the after effects of that. I thought it was impossible to live to bear that scent of the dead man everyday. Often times I would make market trips for no reason just to escape it. Just knowing I was living with a dead person was traumatizing. I was not sure what Ms. Emily was doing with the body but then after a while I figured it out when I had terrible flashbacks of that graveyard incident.

After a while taking care of her got more difficult. We had both aged and she had been very ill. After I discovered she had been sleeping with Homer’s body it was hard to even look at her. She had stayed away from it after a while due to being bed-ridden most of the time, but there were times where she still tried. I figured I tried to accept Emily for who she was but there were times where it took it’s toll on me and Emily probably never cared. I wonder if she saw me as a human and if she ever thought of how her actions would affect me. When she died I left. I live alone and I write now to not go insane.

I cannot tell the whole story of Emily Grierson, for they would simply be too much to tell. I am sorry that she drove people away and I admit that she was deeply flawed. At the same time, Emily was human. She was insecure and often unhappy. There were many voids within her and no one could help her, even if she let them. I pity Homer Barron, and myself for living under such conditions. I cared for Ms. Emily and I did my best, but years of caring takes its emotional toll on you. Once I saw that she died I left a rose by the doorstep when I left. It was the only way I could say goodbye.








The Story Of Tobe & Emily Grierson.

William Faulkner’s “A Rose For Emily” was written as a first person narrative with a distant narrator(s). The narrator never used “I” but instead used “we.” Retelling the story from a different perspective could definitely shed a closer light on a character as complex as Emily. The original story had little to no focus on the relationship between Emily and her servant, Tobe and my purpose in the retelling was to change that. The only way to do this was to have someone who was always close to her to tell their story, thus an exploratory first person narrative from the perspective of Tobe.

Tobe’s actual name is only mentioned one time in the story when the special meeting of the Board of Aldermen took place. We see that Emily is bothered by the presence of these men and their tax requests in her home and she calls for him to lead them away. “‘Tobe!’ The Negro appeared. ‘Show these gentlemen out.’” In the broader spectrum of this scene, this is where Tobe is first introduced as “the Negro” and he is called that throughout the story, but also that specific scene is the only time when he is spoken to directly. On the surface of this story one can argue that he plays a minor role but I would try to debate that argument by having him tell his version of  Emily’s story in his own words. Although he might not have directly affected the dynamic of the story as say Homer Barron would, he was still with Emily all the time and was able to see things that might not have been included or noticed by the original narrator.

The information given in the original story about Tobe could work with this idea of revealing what might have been left out. One of the few things that are revealed about him Faulkner’s story is his inability to speak.  However, a letter from his perspective allows us to get into his mind and see what more he could reveal about Emily and all the events that surround her. An example of this is a particular moment in the original story when the narrator mentions that there have been failed attempts to get information about Emily out of him. Faulkner writes, “we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro. He talked to no one, probably not even her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.”

Tobe writes this letter knowing he has valuable information and thoughts to share, however from that opening sentence he shows a shadow of doubt concerning Emily’s present relevance. He wrote the letter after she died but the narrator of the original implied that they craved for any information on Emily while she was alive. She was the talk of the town every time they noticed something about her.  “So THE NEXT day we all said ‘she will kill herself’; and we said it would be the best thing, When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, ‘She will marry him.’”


An important element of Tobe’s letter is that he gives firsthand account of Emily’s reaction to major events that took place in her life as opposed to just the public reaction and speculation seen in the original. The letter shows that there is that extreme side to Emily that is described in Faulkner’s story but Tobe’s letter gives a bit of insight of what is behind it.

The original story speaks of an incident that occurred right after Mr. Grierson’s death where ministers and the ladies tried reaching out to Emily to help her cope with her grief and also to urge her to bury her father. Initially she denies his death, but then she breaks down and they bury Mr. Grierson’s body quickly. In that section there’s a quote that stuck out to me.“We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which robbed her, as people will.”  This quote in the original shows a major side of Emily’s humanity and I intended for Tobe’s letter to expound on this theme. He writes in his letter that notices visible change in Emily once her father passes. He even gives an anecdote of an incident not mentioned in Faulkner’s story about her bizarre visit to a cemetery a year after Mr. Grierson’s death. Although she was not at her father’s grave site this experience had something to do with the loss of her father, the control he had over her, and I think it bridges the gap between one male figure (Mr. Grierson) to the next (Homer Barron.) According to the letter this scene he introduces Emily’s necrophilia existing because of her antics at the grave site.  “She got closer to the ground and it looked as if she was trying to dig into the ground. I was sure my eyes were deceiving me and I reacted late, I ran toward her but an officer in the distance had noticed her before me and got there quickly. We helped restrain her as she was hysterical and in tears. As we were leaving she blew kisses to the tombstone. That might have been the first detection I had of her necrophilia. ”

Tobe reveals his relationship (or lack thereof) with Emily. In the same quote from the original story that I mentioned earlier that stated that Tobe didn’t even talk to Emily and he confirms that assumption. He writes, “I don’t even know if Ms. Emily realized that I couldn’t speak. I don’t know if she would care. She was in her own world. We had never once spoken to each other. She spoke at me and I did what was needed to be done.”

One thing that isn’t explicit in any of the two tellings is why Tobe and Emily never built a verbal relationship, but some sort of relationship is there. He stayed with Emily through her many phases, antics, and illnesses. He was there until he also grew very old and grey. Even if the relationship between Tobe and Emily was not like a friendship but strictly professional, it was long lasting and it lasted until her death when he leaves. He ends the letter speaking of her death and leaving the rose on a step as he made his final departure. Through this retelling I wanted to bring some significance to the rose mentioned in the original title. This letter doesn’t cover as much historical information as the original story but I aimed to make the letter seem more personal and highlight the servant more and make him seem more human as well. The relationship between him and Emily did hold relevance in my opinion because of the lived experience he had with her and the understanding he had of who she was.

The Ever Alive Rose

The Ever Alive Rose

Sifat sharmin

It has all finished. The good times, the bad times and the worse times everything is over. I’m over. And everyone is very anxious. And for them I gave a well reason to be a mystery. Life has its colors. Just like those china painting I use to do. I use to love painting. I use to love papa and him too. But everyone else , I don’t know . They never cared for me now they are the one aching to know what’s inside my house and that’s not really what they want to know , they want to know about the stuff they can see with open eyes and more the ones they cannot see. I heard people saying I wish I could capture this moment for a life time. I believed in that too. And believed so much in it that I even put that in my life.

Papa loved me no question asked but he never wanted me to met any other men . May be he waned to be the only man to love me till he lives. Though as a form of father daughter love. He never even let anyone near me. Somewhere inside me there was something that use to love that feeling.. I never wanted to let go off papa. I never had any one, no relatives who even cared. All these people who gathered today to see me inside my house more than to bury me they were never around for me. They took everything.

It was late night papa was feeling sick I sat beside him looking through the window wondering to myself “ look how big the sky is  and life is bigger than that”. And in this big world the person who would guide me through my big life stop living in that very moment. My papa stopped breathing and my insecurity started to beat its heart. This big old house,  a dead body and me. And all of those responsibilities. How funny a moment ago the person whom I thought will guide me through my life just left me with my burden felt like life. But I can never forget that papa will always protect me ass long as he is with me alive or dead it really doesn’t matter. Honestly as long as people don’t get to know that I lost my papa.

Three days have passes I don’t know how I have been sitting beside papa for so long. And my legs are so stuck cant even move. How hurtful can it be to see your papa die and what makes it worse is im sitting there and watching him rot.  I wasn’t even done talking to myself I hear the door knocking. Again the world came between what I love and me . They want to berry papa . I want the same but I don’t want him to go away from me . Where I can’t smell his affection and be afraid  of his punishments. I didn’t want to get rid of that feeling no matter how fantasized it is. But in this game I had to loose. They buried papa. Now I’m all alone. Me and this big house ,no money and all the taxes.

They have saved me from my taxes . Said that I don’t have to pay them so kind of them. Finally I gathered all my feelings . Everything has its bad side and good side. First I thought that papa left me with nothing but the house but now I realize he left me with something big and that is my freedom. Freedom to do anything that  my heart content. The freedom of being a part of Homer’ s life.

I love being with him. He is nice and kind and handsome and he is everything I wanted. I wish I could save every moment we have spent together. I wish I could make it a lifetime picture , not only in something only too look at but into something that I can live every day. Just like the way a girl thinks on her wedding day. The way she wishes to life every moment of that day and wish she could live it over and over again. But not everything lasts forever. This world took my father and now it’s after my love. They say I can’t be with him because he is not up to my level. They don’t even know me so when they talk about my life and who  I should  have in my life it makes me angry and laugh at the same time . Well I love him and I won’t let him go .Till my last breath till I live I will live with him .Even if he dies he will live in me and I promised him that . They called my cousin to threaten me that I better not see him anymore. And he left, left for long.

I waited and waited. I drew all my feelings on those china paintings. The bright the dull colors were my expressive feelings for him. I prayed for him to come back not for a while but forever and this time I won’t let him go. This time I will capture my best moments with him and live it every day of my life. I will live it every day as it happened for the first and the last time.


He didn’t show up. But the people for the taxes did. It was way hard to draw them away. I do the china painting it’s my passion not to make money. Labor can be sold but not passion not feelings and every emotion those breaths along with it. And as long as I keep my painting going I will feel my own emotions in many different ways, in many different colors.

Today when I woke up everything felt different. It felt like something good is about to happened . I’m tired of this emptiness of my own .I looked at the window and I saw the most awaited face. He came to see me , he is here. I opened the door and as quickly as possible he went on his knee and proposed to marry me . There was only word that I knew for that moment in life. Yes. I agreed. I finally will have what I wanted in life no one can take it away from me at least not this time .But what happened if the story changes ,what happens if he leaves me again . I can’t lose him. Not this time, not ever. He got me the prettiest wedding gown, the hair bow everything is just the way I dreamt .But we can’t get married unless we go to the church. If I do that everyone will see us together and try to put us apart again. I have been hiding him so long I can’t let it go wrong. But he wants to marry me with all the rituals. I’m afraid, I don’t want to lose this moment from my life, I want to capture it forever. And there is only one way to do it. Only one way to keep him with me in that room, forever. Where everything will be same the wedding environment, my gown , his belongings everything . And even the emotions somehow. If I can do this I will be able to capture these beautiful moments for ever and live then every day like its new, just the way I thought of it.


I went to the room he was getting ready. I offered him a drink with a smiley face . He kissed me and drank it. After this moment everything will be as I wished he will be with me forever. He fell asleep so deep so innocent I lied him down on my bed.

Since that day till today I always walk into that room felling like a bride and embracing him like that’s the first time it ever happened. My china paintings lost color. The season came and left, the leaves were painted with green then changed colors. But our love was always green. Picture perfect just the way I  have  imagined. There might have nothing left in him body but his heart is always there. I can see it beating fulfill with emotions.

Today when they went upstairs and found his body which has been declared to be a skeleton according to them but what is more lively then anything to me right now or ever . He is just sleeping with relief where he is sure he will always be safe in my arms . And no one can put us apart. From today I’ll be sure forever too that no one can ever set us apart. Looking from the sky me and Homer hold hands and laugh that they will never figure us out. And we will be together till eternity.





A Rose for Emily a short story by William Faulkner is a very interesting and unusual story to me . Sometimes I even have hard time guessing if it’s interesting or unusual. So when I was given an opportunity to re-write a story this was the first one that came to my mind. The way the story is told by the narrator, the timing, the environment, everything was unusual. The story starts from the ending of a real life time story of Emily. So I took a chance of re-writing this story in my different way which was an honest try to make the story sound a bit different keeping its real essence alive  but more interesting .

The narrator in the real story is Omni-limited third person. So the story to me sounds like a tale of someone narrated by someone else. So in my version of the story I put Emily herself as the narrator so this story can be seen from Emily’s eyes who had lived those situation. It came to me that no one can explain the causes and the reasoning of an event better than the person who was the center of the event.

The real story begins when Emily dies and everybody has gathered to see her house more than the dead body of her. “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral “. This starting line of the story sounds very generous that people came for her funeral . But in my version of the story I wanted to show how Emily might have felt about the fact that people came in for her funeral  or  they came in to see how the house looks after so many years of them kind of being prohibited even to come near to her house . In the real story for the narrator Emily had died and though her story ended but  it left  the some of the  story unspoken , leaving some mysteries untold. But in my version Emily tells what she has done and was her valid excuse for her deed.

In the real version of the story the narrator jumps time, most of the events are not in any kind sequence . In my story I made a sequence so that the events do have clear relation so that the reader does not get confused about when the events took place.  In my version of the story every event is put in a sequence starting from Emily’s father’s death to the tax people then meeting Homer and then his coming and going back and forth to his death an finally her own death. In my story I also started the story from the end like the real version .My reason for keeping it unchanged is because unlike others stories it starts from the ending of a real life story goes all around and comes back to the ending which is the  originally the beginning .For me made the  story very unusual and I decided to keep it the same .And harm its original beauty.

In the real version of the story it talks about Emily not wanting to give her father’s dead body away. Which might seem crazy to the readers. But in my version of the story she explains the reasons why she denied giving the dead body away. She even explains how the death happens and what her emotional reactions about that were.

Emily kills Homer that’s how we see the story when we read the real version. Even the narrator sounds confused in this entire situation .But in my version of the story I put every details and every event that happened related to that event . Why she gave up the china painting classes , why she never let anyone in to her house , why she took the decision to kill Homer , and why she kept his body. About her feelings when, the society didn’t want her to be with Homer.

When the narrator narrates in the real story it include what he have seen and what they have heard which most Emily didn’t see or hear. But in my version Emily talks about things that she saw, she heard and she faced. So that kind of shifting will be seen in my version of the story. So in my version of the story there might be things that were not on the real version and there might not be stuffs that was on the real version. But the story line is kept the same.

In the real story the narrator talks about Emily’s life but from other peoples point of view. They are taking about Emily and the situations she came across in life but it doesn’t say how she felt during every event, it doesn’t explain how she looked upon the situation  when she had to face it. In my version of the story it’s all about Emily. She is more like the show man in my story everything that happened she had her own way to explain it. And for that her emotional sides come out in my story.

In this story I tried to make everything to be told from a first person prospective so that the story can be told more clearly. And everything that was unspoken could be revealed in my version of the story. I gave Emily a chance to talk about her life in my version, it was more like giving her a chance to speak herself. But any shifting that have made I tried my best not to harm the true beauty of the real story.





The Truth Behind the Rose

The Truth Behind the Rose

Jocelyn Vigil

I don’t understand why em’ white folks coming around now, I’m sure them folks are coming to sneak around Old Miss Emily’s home and later on gossip, but I don’t blame em’, Miss Emily lived her life in secrecy. She never came out and if she did, she ain’t speak to any of em’ anyway. I remember watching the old women from this town, walking past Miss Emily’s home as if they were trying to figure out what’s going on, trying to ‘help’ in anyway, as if their pity can solve Miss Emily’s ache. I don’t think they really knew how much harm they did with em’ critiques Oh, Poor miss Emily. Only if she had someone to her own, since her father died two years prior perhaps is why she kept me here, to accompany her. After her father’s death  I noticed a change on Miss Emily, She barely went out, her attitude changed, I didn’t dare bring up any question to why, but I figured it was for that reason. Miss Emily restricted people going to her home; she ain’t want any visitors, probably because she didn’t want to remember anything? As time passed, a certain type of smell came about, I had to inform Miss Emily to that smell, but she quickly dismissed it, so I stopped questioning her about it.  Every time I went to the market place I would over hear how the women from town would say “Just as if a man—any man –could keep a kitchen properly”. Oh Please! It’s not like you clean your home yo’self, their servants do all the job! I overheard a neighbor of Miss Emily complaining to the Mayor Judge Stevens about the smell, she wanted Miss Emily out of her home! Mayor Stevens dismissed her idea and suggested it could’ve been just a dead animal. And as the days went by, the Mayor got several more complaints about the smell.

I figured that they might have kicked Emily out of her house but no, a couple of days later four strange men after midnight went across Miss Emily’s Yard to sniff where the smell came from, from what Miss Emily told me. Supposedly they went along the base of the brick wood and the cellar openings, and broke into her cellar and sprinkled lime around that area as if that would work, but apparently it did. I recall Miss Emily mentioning to me that she heard someone creeping around her yard, and that as soon as she heard it, she turned on the candle and sat quietly, but heard no mo’. She figured it might have been the neighbors trying to snoop around her house. I bet it was the men from the Board of Aldermen; those men couldn’t even have the courage to knock on poor Miss Emily’s door to figure out that problem. I had wished I found them that night; I would’ve scared them away! That would have made my night.

I remember how her father used to be, he would always scare away the men that wanted to court her, maybe he loved Miss Emily with all his heart, he wanted to protect her from any man. That man was a strange one, her father, I don’t know much about the mother, probably because she wasn’t really present at home. She had just turned thirty years old, right after her father died. I saw how saddened she looked that day of her father’s death. All that her father had left her was the house, and myself, it was now empty and I can feel the silence. It was only I and Miss Emily. I had left her alone to grief, but as soon as word spread around, all of those annoying, snooping ladies came to give their condolences.  Miss Emily quickly denied her father’s death,–I would’ve too! But then the law and the doctors were trying to dispose of the body oh so very quick. Three days later, she had to give in and she broke down as she saw her father being buried. I’d say she was broken and felt like she was lonely, I’d reckon that I would feel the same if my father had just died. I’m glad now that at least I was there for her and I didn’t leave her in her lone.

Soon after her father’s death, she encountered a man named Homer Barron; he was a foreman of some construction company that came to pave sidewalks in the town. I say it was about time that this town was getting a change. These two were a great pair, I would hear her say to me how happy and full of joy she was. I thought that finally she has found some joy in her life. I’m guessing soon after a couple of months went by , I was told by Miss Emily that I were to go to the drug store and pick up a special delivery and that once I had gotten there I were to go back into her house as fast as I could. I didn’t understand at the time, so I figured it was urgent. I did what I was told, I dare not question Miss Emily once, but I thought to myself what this box might have had. As I had gotten back, she quickly opened the box and from afar I saw what seemed like a skull drawn on the side. I figured it was poison for rats, but then I thought to myself that we don’t have rats here. A couple of days later, we had received two cousins of Miss Emily’s into her home. She was happy to see them, I over-heard them talking about Homer and other family situations, their visit was good for her. In the later days I saw Miss Emily buying a man’s toilet set in silver with Homers initials I think, and a complete outfit of men’s clothing. I thought these were gifts for Homer, so I thought. I overheard people gossiping that they were finally going to get married, I wasn’t sure about this one, probably because Miss Emily would have spoken with me. I felt that something strange was going on, I saw her as if she was hiding something, as a plan was soon to happen.

Her cousins had left town when Homer came back, everythin’ was quiet again as usual. Until Miss Emily came up to me and told me that she need me to go and find Homer and bring him to her, that she had something very important to discuss with him. I went to town that evenin’ and brought him into the house through the kitchen because the front door was locked for some odd reason and told him to wait while I fetched Miss Emily to come downstairs. Miss Emily went down stairs and greeted Homer, and went into the kitchen where I was at and told me to listen and do what I’m being told. It was odd for her to speak to me like that, because I always did what she had wanted me to do. But as she was talking to me, she slowly took out arsenic, and whispered “Pour this into this glass of lemonade you’ve prepared and offer it to Homer, and once you have given this to him do no more and go do your usual hose work, you got that Tobe?” I remember how surprised I was for me to hear this out of Miss Lovely Emily. As the only thing left for me to do, I nodded and said nothing. I took out another glass of lemonade for Miss Emily and poured the arsenic into Homer’s cup. As I went to give Miss Emily and Homers lemonade, I felt sad of what was going to happen to that poor man. I gave him his cup and looked into his eyes and saw the innocence of what was going to be of his death.

And that was the last I saw of him, years passed and I wondered why Miss Emily did what she did to Homer. I would still go out to market and buy the groceries as long as Miss Emily let me. It wasn’t the same as before, I felt like she had become someone that I did not know anymore. To kill a man and for me to be in it made me sick, I did all of her errands but I did not feel the same where I would speak to her like before. People had stopped asking her about her, because I stopped tellin’ em’ information.  Miss Emily got very ill, and was no longer with health. The day before she had died, she looked at me and with her eyes, looked above, steadily and then silently passed away. I know why she looked up, but I was scared to find out, I did not have the courage to open the upstairs bedroom. So now here I am, never to come back to a tragic home I once worked for. It is my time to walk away, I see no use of me in here nomore, I will leave the townsfolk to find out the truth of Homer Barron and poor Miss Emily.





In the short story of “A Rose for Emily” By William Faulkner, the story is told by a “Third Person Omni-present Narrator”. The retelling of A Rose for Emily will be “First Person Limited Narration”. In the original story, there was no known character that presented itself; the narrator only knew what was going on with the outside world, but not much on a selected few like Miss Emily. Tobe will be the known narrator because he was always near Miss Emily and was always in her home than anyone else.

I will be using Tobe as the First person limited narrator because it makes sense that since he lives and works for Miss Emily that he would be able to give a different side view and fill in some reasons of Miss Emily’s actions throughout the story. I want to start my narration here with tobe receiving the guests for Miss Emily’s funeral, but I want this character to begin his storytelling when Miss Emily’s father passed away. I want to write what goes on in Tobe’s head and of Miss Emily that hasn’t gone out of her home for a very long time. Tobe is first mentioned on section 2 of the story where the third person narrator goes back into the past and says “A few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man—a young man then—going in and out with a market baske

In section 2, there was a smell developing in Miss Emily’s yard, the towns people and her neighbors complained about that smell, there was no action done, until one night some men went to sprinkle lime. I want the readers to know that Miss Emily knew about the smell, and dismisses it quickly. I want to use Tobe’s character to question Miss Emily if she knew anything about it, and observe her reaction towards it and their reactions towards the men sneaking around the home.  “So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily’s lawn and slunk about the house like burglars sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings.”

On the bottom of section 2, the original narrator mentions a old memory about Miss Emily’s father and how he had driven away all the young men that would have wanted to court her. “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away…” I want to use Tobe to give an insight on how her behavior was after her father died and not having anyone for companionship, being left alone in the home that he father left her. “When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her….” Right after section 3, Miss Emily meets Homer Barron, the townspeople first were glad that she had found an interest after many years but then there were others who were criticizing her for having an interest that was a ‘Northerner’, a ‘day laborer’. In the original narration, we don’t get to read on what Miss Emily felt about Homer and the criticism that came with him. In the retelling, there will be a brief moment where the servant knows on Miss Emily’s thoughts towards her new interest.

The original narrator does not tell the real reason why Miss Emily goes into the drug store to purchase poison, nor does the narrator tell how she kills Homer Barron. But in my version of the retelling I want to add a bit of my imagination of what went on between her servant Tobe and Miss Emily. In the original story, the narrator only tells that she sent her servant to get the package, and look for Homer; we don’t get any more detail on what happens between the times when she receives the package of poison and the time where Homer disappears. “I want some poison, she said to the druggist. I want the best you have. I don’t care what kind. “Arsenic” said Miss Emily, I want some arsenic.” “The Negro 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 bones: “For Rats”.”  During that lapse of time, i want to add that the servant might have known what was going on with Miss Emily sending him to retrieve the package.

Lastly, the ending of the retelling will be with Tobe spending Miss Emily’s last moments alive, where she confesses to her servant where Homer Barron is since his disappearance. I want to end the narration back into the future where he leads the townspeople into Miss Emily’s home and walks straight out the house and was never seen again. “The Negro met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed sibilant voices and their quick curious glances, and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again.”