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A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily

by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily Section 2 Summary

  • The section begins by saying that Emily "vanquished," or beat those tax collectors, in the same way that she "vanquished" their dads some thirty years ago when they came to her house because of some mysterious "smell."
  • This smell showed up about two years after Emily's father died, and pretty soon after her boyfriend left her.
  • The neighbors complain to Judge Stevens, the mayor, but he can't think of a way to politely tell Miss Emily (a southern lady) that her roses aren't smelling so sweet.
  • So, four guys go to her house and sprinkle lime (see "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" for a discussion of lime) everywhere they can reach.
  • They can see Emily watching from an upstairs window. She is described as "motionless as that of an idol" (2.10).
  • (You might have to chew on that one before it resonates. It's a confusing line.)
  • Anyhow, the smell goes away in a matter of weeks.
  • Around this time, the town begins to pity Miss Emily.
  • She is more proof that the Grierson family wasn't as superior as they thought they were.
  • We learn that Emily's great-aunt, old lady Wyatt, had gone insane, and that Emily's father didn't think any of the men in town were "quite good enough for Miss Emily" (2.11).
  • Speaking of Emily's father, the man didn't leave her much more than the house when he died (though the reason isn't given).
  • Emily's poverty gives the town a reason to feel sorry for her, and to see her as a human being.
  • When the town ladies learned that Emily's father was dead, they went over there to give her their condolences and were met with an Emily in complete denial.
  • For about three days she refused to admit that her father was dead.
  • The preachers and the doctors worked with her and finally Emily faced the facts and broke down in grief and let them take the body and bury it.
  • The town didn't think Emily was insane for being in denial over her father's death.
  • They knew that even though the man had "robbed her" (2.14) (by scaring off her suitors), he was really all she had.

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