A Rose for Emily


This study guide will help you analyze the short story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective. 

Presentation of the text

Title: “A Rose for Emily”
Author: William Faulkner 
Published in: The Forum (magazine)
Date of Publication: 1930
Genre: Short Story

William Faulkner (1897-1962) was an American author of fiction, poetry, and essays who is considered one of the greatest American authors of Southern literature. His works focus on aspects of the South of the US following the American Civil War: society, violence, social and political issues and conflicts. Faulkner’s talent has been acknowledged through two Pulitzer prizes and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. His most well-known novels are The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930) and Absalom, Absalom! (1936).


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The rose is one of the most powerful symbols in the short story and is only mentioned in the title. The narrative provides no explanation for the title, but the events hint that the narrator might see the rose as a symbol of pity. Another possibility is that the rose mentioned in the title is a symbol for Homer, whom Emily keeps as a memento in her room, just like people keep roses between the pages of books. This idea is also illustrated by the rose-colored accessories in the room: “curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights”. 

Emily’s house is a symbol of isolation and loneliness. After her father’s death, Emily confines herself to the house and is rarely seen in public, except for the time she spends with Homer Barron. On the same note, the room where she keeps Homer’s body symbolizes death and isolation, but also Emily’s obsession and resistance to change. The room is associated with a tomb and suggests that Emily could not let go of the one she loved. 


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A Rose for Emily

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