Voice and narration in “A Rose for Miss Emily”
In “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, the narrative voice is quite used is quite unusual compared to any other fictional work, “… the story’s complex chronology and the unusual voice of the narrator…” (page 411). Lawrence R. Rodgers opinion on the voice: “I would like to suggest that he was thinking of, and wanted readers to recall, the gossipy, first-person style of society columnists” (page 412). In this essay the narrative voice will be determined in Faulkner’s story and more importantly how it conveys the tensions between Miss Emily and the residents of the town.
Tensions and traditions
The death of her father
Despite of her father’s death and the gossip around her, she decides to hold her head high: “She carried her head high enough-even when we believed that she was fallen.” (page 394) this suggests that she was aware of the fact that people was talking behind her back. She starts to act more rudely to the people around her and isolate herself further from the townspeople. In the section where she buys poison she interrupts the storekeeper and tries to keep the conversation as short as possible: “The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag.” (page 394). Even the next day, gossip had spread about her purchase and the townspeople seemed to immediately assume that she was going to kill herself.
As she had started to alienate herself from the townspeople, Homer Barron showed up. While he was not perhaps the man her father would want her to marry he was still more suitable than the male townspeople. As she begins dating him, the ladies in the town start talking: “… some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people […] the following day the minister’s wife wrote to Miss Emily’s relations in Alabama.” (page 395). While it is not known to what extent Miss Emily knows of any gossip, this probably did not have a positive effect on the relation between Miss Emily and the townspeople.
In this essay the tension between Miss Emily and the townspeople has been examined. The narrative voice used for this story is first-person plural where the narrator seems to be one of the townspeople whereas the plural use suggests that all of the townspeople could be the narrator at certain times. This essay suggests that there are class differences between the townspeople and Miss Emily that cause the main tension in the story. A reason why she chose Homer Barron over the other men in the town could be explained simply because of the class difference and how she responded to the gossip told by everyone in the town.
~ Guest Author, Axel Hansson at @ AnimalTeeth.