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A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily

by William Faulkner

Isolation Theme

There's no getting around the fact that "A Rose for Emily" is a story about the extremes of isolation – by physical and emotional. This Faulkner classic shows us the process by which human beings become isolated by their families, by their community, by tradition, by law, by the past, and by their own actions and choices. In effect, this story takes a stand against such isolation, and against all those who isolate others. When you get through with this story, you might feel the urge to take a nice stroll in the county, or at least take a spin around the park. Go! Breathe the air; feel the sunshine; visit a friend.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Which character is more isolated, Tobe or Miss Emily? What are the different reasons behind their isolations? Did they have a choice?
  2. Does the town play a role in Miss Emily's isolation? If not, why not? If so, what are some of the things the town does to isolate her?
  3. Does Emily's father play a role in her isolation (even though he is dead)? If so, what role does he play?
  4. What are some other factors behind Miss Emily's isolation?
  5. Besides Tobe, and Miss Emily, are there any other isolated characters described in the story? If so, which ones, and how are they isolated.

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The narrator tells us twice that Miss Emily is similar to an idol, suggesting that because she was raised to think she is above others, and because others were raised to look at her that way as well, she is permanently cut off from other people.

Miss Emily isolated herself by choosing to remain a town where she couldn't fit in.

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