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A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily


by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily Theme of Versions of Reality

By showing people with skewed versions of reality, "A Rose for Emily" asks us to take off our "rose-colored" glasses and look reality in the face. What we confront is the reality of America in the story, and the reality of the main character's complete isolation. Faulkner reveals how difficult it can be to see the past and the present clearly and honestly by depicting memory as flawed and subjective. This "difficulty" is part of why the main characters goes insane, or so it certainly appears. Luckily, there are healthy doses of compassion and forgiveness in the novel. When we start to feel that, we start to see things more clearly.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Is Miss Emily insane or vengeful and mean? A little of both?
  2. Emily can seem both very strong and very weak. How, if at all, do these two approaches to life impact her reality?
  3. Is it important to the story that Miss Emily's great-aunt, old lady Wyatt, is considered insane by the townspeople? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think Tobe has a clear view of reality? Is he insane for living in a house with a dead body, and protecting Miss Emily by not telling the authorities? If he's not insane, what might motivate him to act this way?
  5. Do the different generations of Jefferson society presented have different versions of the reality of Miss Emily? If so, what are some of these versions?

Chew on This

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

"A Rose for Emily" shows how the unrealistic expectations placed on southern women in past eras were detrimental.

This story shows how much things have changed since Miss Emily's time, how different our reality is from that of the characters in the story.

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