A Rose for Emily
by William Faulkner
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
First Person (Peripheral Narrator)
The fascinating narrator of "A Rose for Emily" is more rightly called "first people" than "first person." Usually referring to itself as "we," the narrator speaks sometimes for the men of Jefferson, sometimes for the women, and often for both. It also spans three generations of Jeffersonians, including the generation of Miss Emily's father, Miss Emily's generation, and the "newer generation," made up of the children of Miss Emily's contemporaries. The narrator is pretty hard on the first two generations, and it's easy to see how their treatment of Miss Emily may have led to her downfall. This lends the narrative a somewhat confessional feel.
While we are on the subject of "we," notice no one townsperson is completely responsible for what happened to Emily. (It is fair to say, though that some are more responsible than others.) The willingness of the town to now admit responsibility is a hopeful sign, and one that allows us to envision a better future for generations to come. We discuss this further in "Tone," so check out that section for more information.