By William Faulkner
II. SYNOPSIS / SUMMARY
The funeral of Miss Emily Grierson is attended by the whole town. The women, mostly due to curiosity, want to see the interiors of her house wherein nobody else except for an old Negro servant has seen in ten years, at the minimum.
When she was still alive, Miss Grierson was a noble and respectable single woman. When her father died, she became alone, and a pauper. The people pitied her.
One day, there was a very bad and unbearable smell coming from her yard. Some neighbors complained to the mayor, and he simply advised them to tell her to clean up her place.
Miss Emily was sick for long. Her neighbors would rarely see her. But, when she had a love interest, a gay construction worker named Homer Barron, the two of them would be spotted together on Sunday afternoons. The townspeople were happy for her and thought she would get married to Homer, especially when they found out she bought some men’s things. However, after sometime, when they did not see Homer anymore, they pitied Miss Emily again because her lover left her.
She was rumored to kill herself when she bought rat poison. But she did not. She would still be occasionally seen outside of her house up to the time its front door started to remain closed. The years passed, and her hair was turning gray until it became pepper-and-salt-iron-gray.
Now she is dead. The people can now enter her house that has always been off-limits to them prior to this time. They go to the room upstairs which nobody has seen for forty years. After forcing the door open, they see that the room looks like a married couple’s. Then, they are shocked to see the skeletal remains of a man on the bed. They notice that the second pillow has a long strand of iron-gray hair.
III. SHORT STORY ELEMENTS
A. MAJOR CHARACTERS
1. Miss Emily Grierson – Protagonist, Developing
2 Her Negro servant - Flat, Static
3. Homer Barron - Flat, Static
4. The neighbors and townspeolpe - Flat, Static
B. PLOT -
This short story begins with Miss Emily’s funeral. Then the “personas” use flashback, from one highlight to another, that tell us about Miss Emily’s life.
b) Rising Action
When Miss Emily bought rat poison, the people though she would kill herself.
Those who forced open the closed room had a big surprise when they saw the skeleton that they suspected was Homer Barron’s.
d) Falling action
After their initial shock was gone, the townspeople who opened the locked room saw a pillow that had a long strand of iron-gray hair.
Speculations arose, but nobody knew for sure what exactly happened, since Miss Emily had died.
a) place – in a southern town somewhere in Jefferson
b) time- the late 1800's up to the early 1900's.
c) weather conditions - fine
d) social conditions- good
e) mood or atmosphere –
D. POINT OF VIEW
The Point of View used in this short story is the Omniscient Objective – The author tells the story in the third person. It appears as though a camera is following the characters, going anywhere, and recording only what is seen and heard. There is no comment on the characters or their thoughts. No interpretations are offered. The reader is placed in the position of spectator without the author there to explain. The reader has to interpret events on his own.
E. LITERARY DEVICES
In my opinion, the literary devices used in this story are Flashback, Foreshadowing, Symbolism.
Flashback: When Miss Emily died, the townspeople narrated some important highlights in her life by means of flashbacks.
Foreshadowing: When I read the part where Miss Emily bought rat poison, but there was no mention of rats prior to that, I thought that it was for something very important in the story. Thus, I read on with the close attention to what that poison was really for.
Symbolism: After re-reading a few times, I strongly believe that the house, the watch, the poison, and the matrimonial bed symbolize important things in the story. The house symbolizes Miss Emily’s being a noble person who became a pauper, just as the elegant house became a prison cell of some sort. Then, the watch symbolizes the timeline of the highlights or vital events in Miss Emily’s life. Meanwhile, the poison symbolizes death, and the matrimonial bed found in the locked room symbolizes Miss Emily’s thoughts about marriage despite what the townspeople thought of her.
For me, the themes Things are not always as they appear to be and also Love is blind are applicable to this story.
The conflicts here are External:
Man vs. Circumstances (classical) - The leading character struggles against fate, or the circumstances of life facing him/her.
Miss Emily struggled through the harsh realities of life.
Man vs. Society (social) - The leading character struggles against ideas, practices, or customs of other people.
The townspeople’s descriptions and perceptions about Miss Emily made her very pitiful. --ARV