Retelling of “A Rose for Emily”
When Miss Emily’s father died Tobe was worried about her. “God knows how this poor woman will survive without her father,” he muttered to himself.” He had worked as the Grierson family servant since Miss Emily was a little girl. He never knew her mother. When she became a young lady he could not understand why her father never allowed any of the men who were interested in her to court her. It seemed in the eyes of Mr. Grierson, no man was good enough for her.
“Tobe,” Mr. Grierson would say. “Show this young man to door.” This happened several times.
The young men would fidget nervously with their hat and would manage to say, “thank you for your time Mr. Grierson,” as if showing Mr. Grierson respect would change his mind.
He and his daughter had a close bond. Now that he was gone Miss Emily was alone, husbandless and with no family or friends in town, this meant she was bound to be lonely.
He watched her sitting next to the bed on which her father took his last breath. His body still lay there. He could hear her whispering, “father!” “Father!” “Can you hear me?” “Please wake up.” Several hours after Mr. Grierson’s death he cautiously approached her. “Miss Emily,” he said, “should I fetch the coroner to take the body now.” She turned her head and tears ran down her cheek. Then she spoke with anger. “No one is to touch my father!” she screamed. “No one,” “Do you hear me Tobe!?” It was as if the grief she felt was making her mad. He had never seen her so upset before. “Alright Miss Emily,” was all he said.
The women folk from town came calling on the second day. With great effort she manage to pull herself together. When she met them at the door she was well dressed and very composed. They had no idea the grief and pain she was feeling. No one was admitted inside the house. After Tobe opened the door she would look her visitors in the eye and in a curt voice she would say, “my father is not dead.”
One day after she abruptly closed the door she sat down in the parlor and wept. Through her sobbing she said, “Tobe, I am alone.” “Why did he have to leave me?” He was unsure how to respond. He was not use to her expressing her personal feelings to him. Finally he said, “I am here Miss Emily, you are not alone.”
On the second day the ministers and doctors were admitted in the house by Tobe. They did their best to persuade Miss Emily to let them bury her father. She would not relent. Just as they decided to use the law to force her to release the body Tobe appeared at the coroner’s office. “Miss Emily is ready to bury her father.” Was all he said.
It was not an easy task for Tobe to get Miss Emily to relent. “This is wrong Miss Emily,” he said to her earlier that morning. “Your father need to be put to rest.” She turned from her position at her father’s bedside. He saw the grief in her eyes, but he also saw that she was more subdued. “You are right Tobe,” she had said. “Fetch the coroner.”
It took him days to get the smell of death out of that house. Miss Emily never acknowledge the smell. It was as if it did not bother her one bit.
After she buried her father she became a recluse, barely leaving the house. Tobe heard some of the gossip when he went to town on errands for her. “That’s her negro,” they would say. “Did you hear?” a woman said in the grocery store, “she is broke.” The other woman chimed in, “I heard all he left her was that old house.” As the conversation continued he heard yet another woman saying. “The Griersons always act like they’re better than us, now she will see what it’s like to live like the rest of us.” “Poor Miss Emily,” they all said in unison.
In his mind he visualized himself going up to these women and defending Miss Emily. He would tell them what a wonderful person she was. Of course he could not. He was her servant and there were different rules for people of his race.
One day while they were inside, a noise from outside interrupted the silence of that big old house. “What’s going on Tobe?” she asked. “Oh Miss Emily it’s that man Homer Barron cussing those Niggers.” “Who?” She said. “Homer Barron,” he repeated. “He is out there with some niggers paving the sidewalks.”
“Tobe!” she yelled as the noise became even more bothersome. “Fetch me my hat.” He was surprised she wanted to go out and quickly fetched her hat. He opened the door for her and watched as she ventured to the gate.
He was unsure about the conversation that transpired but when she came back inside, he thought he saw a faint smile on her face, something he had not seen in years.
He was shock when the doorbell rang that Sunday and Homer Barron stood there.
He had seen him in town on many occasion since work started on the pavements. From what he knew he was the foreman of the contracted construction company. He was a Yankee, a big, dark ready man. He had a big booming voice and eyes lighter than his face. He was charming. The ladies liked him, the little boys followed him around and the men respected him. Everyone knew Homer Barron.
Tobe! He said with hat in his hand. “I am here to call on Miss Emily.” Tobe was unsure what to say, but he quickly recovered and said, “wait here.” He closed the door. He was surprised all over again when he saw Miss Emily well dressed and wearing her favorite hat coming down the stairs. Her face looked bright, she was beaming. “She looks happy.” He thought to himself. Despite the fact that she seemed to be expecting Homer Barron Tobe still informed her. “Miss Emily, a Mr. Homer Barron is at the door.” “Thank you Tobe,” she said as she waltz through the door he held open for her. He watched as he held her hand to help her into the yellow horse drawn buggy.
This became a routine. Every Sunday Homer Barron came by with the horse buggy to pick up Miss Emily. The women in town now had new events to fuel their gossip machine. Many were happy for Miss Emily. Even Tobe was happy. He noticed Miss Emily was in a pleasant mood since she started to spend time with Homer Baron.
It seemed the town folks especially the women could not make up their minds, this minute they were happy for Miss Emily and the next minute they gossip about her relationship. They felt it was not a good example for the young girls in Town for Miss Emily to spend so much time with Mr. Barron without a chaperone. They forced the minister to speak with her. Tobe admitted him. At the end of his speech about moral standards Miss Emily merely said to him. “What goes on in my life is nobody’s business.” Then she summoned Tobe and said, “kindly show this gentleman out.”
A few weeks later when her cousins showed up at her house she was upset and told them in no uncertain terms that they too should stay out of her affairs.
By that time all the sidewalks had been paved and Homer Barron left town. No one knew what to make of it. After all the whole town thought they would be married.
Even Tobe thought they were to be married. He had seen them together and saw how happy they were in each other’s company. When Tobe picked up a man’s toilet set and men’s clothing and a night shirt that Miss Emily had ordered, he felt sure they were to be married.
The cousins left town and sure enough Homer Barron returned. That Sunday he took Miss Emily on a buggy ride just like old times.
Tobe saw her when she returned to the house. She did not look happy. “Are you alright Miss Emily?” he asked. She did not reply. Next day she insisted that she have to go to town. She returned with a package from the drug store. She placed the package in the kitchen. Tobe could not resist opening the package. He read the label out loud, “for rats.” He was puzzled because he had not seen rat in the house for a long time.
One day at dusk Homer Barron came for supper. Tobe admitted him through the kitchen door. He could not understand why he did not use the front door. “Hi Tobe.” “Miss Emily asked me to use the kitchen door.”
When Tobe walked by the parlor he overheard Homer Baron talking to Miss Emily. “It’s the same as we discussed before,” Homer said. “I am not ready to get married.” Miss Emily was quiet for a moment then with grace and dignity she rose and looked at Homer. “Would you like something to eat,” she asked.” She excused herself and went to the kitchen. She returned later with a tray.
As they ate she did her best to seem light hearted, but deep down she was hurting. After the meal Homer Barron just sat there as if he could not move.
“Tobe!” Miss Emily said, “Take Mr. Barron upstairs to his room.” He knew exactly which room she spoke of, for earlier that day she had asked him to lay out all the items she brought for him in that room.
The next day he thought Homer had left town. He brought Miss Emily her breakfast. Her faced looked sad and withdrawn. It reminded him of when she lost her father.
He noticed the room he had put Homer Barron in was locked with a key.
Then the smell started. At first it was faint like when Mr. Grierson died. Then it got strong and overpowering. It was the smell of death he thought. He was not sure what to make of it. Sometimes she would open the door to the room she had set up for Homer and stay there for a long time.
The smell went away in a couple of months. Tobe was glad. He was too old to track down where that smell was coming from.
After that Miss Emily never went out again. She got older and frail from lack of fresh air and sunlight.
When she took sick and died Tobe felt sorry for her. She had not experience the joy of marriage and family. He left soon after her death. He had family in another town he would be staying with. He did not go to the funeral and he was not there when they broke open the door to Homer Barron’s room and found the man lying there. Strands of hair and the impression of Miss Emily’s body was on the bed. She did not have him in life but she certainly had him all to herself in death.
Comparative Essay, “A Rose for Emily” & “Poor Emily”
The original story, “A Rose for Emily,” by William Faulkner is told using first person narration. The narrator is a member of the town where Miss Emily lived, who is a minor character not centrally involved in the plot. This type of narration limited the access of the reader to the thoughts, emotions, setting of events and interaction of the point of view character Miss Emily, with other characters. In the retelling of the story entitled, “Poor Emily,” the narration used is third person limited. Tobe, Miss Emily’s servant becomes a central character in the story. With this type of narration the narrator is able to provide readers with in-depth access to the thoughts and feelings of Miss Emily. Readers also gain access to the settings and events they were not privileged with in the style of the original story narration. Also Tobe, a key person in Miss Emily’s life becomes less mysterious. The reader is able to get a glimpse of his interaction with Miss Emily inside the home.
The original story started with the death of Miss Emily, the narrator opened the plot by stating, “when Miss Emily died, our whole town went to her funeral.” This is in contrast to the retelling where the plot commenced with the death of Emily’s father, Mr. Grierson. The narrator stated, “when Miss Emily’s father died Tobe was worried about her.” The original story is told using the flashback technique. This technique resulted in plots from earlier events interrupting current events as the story progressed. For example, although the story began with the death of Miss Emily the author then told the events that led up to the death of Miss Emily before culminating the events surrounding her death.
The retelling, “Poor Emily,” told the story in chronological order. The plot unfolded to the reader frame by frame as events occurred. There is however, one aspect of the story where flashback was used briefly. This occurred when Mr. Grierson’s died and Miss Emily was in denial and refused to bury him. “Just as the law was ready to force her to release the body Tobe appeared at the coroner’s office.” “Miss Emily is ready to bury her father was all he said.” The flashback occurred when the narrator stated, “It was not an easy task for Tobe to get Miss Emily to relent.” “This is wrong Miss Emily.” “He said to her earlier that morning.” Clearly Tobe went to speak to the coroner before the reader was given access to the event or conversation that occurred before he was allowed by Miss Emily to go there.
The original story had more plots for the reader to follow. Faulkner started with Miss Emily’s death then he gave us an insight into her life and the various events that occurred. He gave us an insigt into her life when she was alone and was excluded from paying taxes by Colonel Sartoris. After the Colonel’s death the new town officials saw through the made up story of a so call loan that Emily’s father had given to the town. They became adamant that Miss Emily pay her taxes. Of course she refused stating, “I have no taxes in Jefferson, Colonel Sartoris explained it to me.” From there the story progressed to the death of her father. Then her life seemed to be renewed when she met Homer Barron her love interest. The narrator stated on page 5, “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.” Unlike the original story the retelling has less plot and the chronological order helps the reader to follow the plot much easier.
In the original story the only insight we had into the emotions of Miss Emily is when she became a recluse after her father’s death and again after she killed Homer Baron. On page 3 the narrator sated, “after her father’s death she went out very little, after her sweetheart went away, people hardly see her at all.” It is clear that when she was experiencing situations that made her sad she would avoid being seen in public. In the retelling we get the sense of how devastated she was after her father died. On page 1 while she was grieving and in denial of her father’s death she angrily spoke to Tobe, “no one is to touch my father!” “as she turned her head tears ran down her cheek.” This is a moment where the reader gets to understand the level of distress Miss Emily was experiencing. In the original story the reader could only imply that she was sad because she lost her father and was alone, husbandless and had no family in town.
Another contrasting moment in the retelling and the original story is how Miss Emily met Homer Baron. In the original story Faulkner gave the reader no insight as to how Miss Emily met Homer Barron. The reader had an understanding of who Homer Barron was and suddenly Miss Emily started to be seen with him on Sunday afternoons. In the retelling the reader has a better idea of how they both met. On page 2 Tobe explained who Homer Barron was, “he is out there with some niggers paving the sidewalks.” “Tobe she yelled as the noise became more bothersome, fetch me my hat.” “When she came back inside Tobe thought he saw a faint smile on her face.” This indicated to the reader that Miss Emily’s first meeting with Homer Barron was a pleasant base on her demeanor.
The mood of the original story is somber and tragic. Because of the nature of the plot the retelling had to remain in the same tone. Miss Emily in both stories was sad and lonely. For a while it seemed as if her prospects was changing after she met Homer Barron, everyone including her thought she was to be married. However, this was not to be. Both the original and the retelling ended in tragedy for Miss Emily. While the original kept the reader in suspense about the whereabouts of Homer Barron after the night Tobe admitted him through the kitchen door. The retelling gave the reader obvious hints about what happened to Homer Barron. The narrator stated, “after the meal Homer just sat there as if he could not move.” “Tobe, take Mr. Barron upstairs to his room said Miss Emily.” “The next day he thought Homer had left town.” “He noticed the room he had put Homer in was kept locked.” Then the overpowering smell that reminded Tobe of when the father had died came back.