“A Rose for Emily” with Spoilers

If you want to be an English major, you are going to have to read a lot of things you really can’t stand and then write papers about them.  And discuss them.  And sometimes you’ll have to pretend you like them. And that may scar your psyche.

One work of literature that scarred me for life is “A Rose for Emily”, a story by William Faulkner.  Here is a short summary, with spoilers.  Feel free to take notes.

Okay, so there’s this old broad in the South named Emily. She died. Before she died, she looked bloated and her house smelled bad. Before she looked bloated and her house smelled bad, she hooked up with a Yankee named Homer. THAT caused some scandal, let me tell you.

At some point Emily buys arsenic. Homer disappears. Emily refuses to pay her taxes and shuts herself up in her house.  Then her house smells. Then she looks bloated. Then her hair grows grayer and grayer. Then she dies.

When the townspeople go into her house after she dies, they find a rotting corpse. It has a gray hair on it, so homegirl has been getting her groove on with the remains of Homer. Ick.  The End.

If you have to write a paper about “A Rose for Emily”, I feel sorry for you. But here are some quick tips.

First, throw in something about “circular narration”. In other words, you can’t follow what the heck Faulkner is talking about because he goes round and round in circles so you don’t know what happened when. But English professors like it.

Second, the gray symbolizes the Old South, and somehow Miss Emily sleeping with the corpse symbolizes the Old South sleeping with death.  Honestly, I never did get that part because Homer was a Yankee.  But it has something to do with the death of dreams and blah blah blah.  Just remember – Gray = old south. Bloating. Death. Dreams. Refusal.

After reviewing the story for this post, I have to say that I still don’t get it. And I’m actually okay with that.


  1. It’s days like this I’m grateful I write romance. 🙂

    • Betsy Horvath says

      All these years later and I still feel a certain hostility towards “A Rose for Emily”. Now THAT’s literature. LOL

  2. I remember having to read that in high school….. I never figured out how they could protest books in the schools that had interesting sexual references and let this one by! Bleah…. Must. Go. Read. Something. Non-Icky…… LOL

  3. Why does this have to be the ONLY realblie source? Oh well, gj!

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