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A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily

by William Faulkner

Visions of America Theme

"A Rose for Emily" doesn't look at America through rose-colored glasses, even though many of its characters do. In the aftermath of slavery, the American South shown in the novel is in bad shape. The novel deals with the stubborn refusal of some southerners to see that the America they believed in – an America based on slavery – was no more. The story covers about 74 years, beginning sometime just before the Civil War. The focus, however, is on the periods from about 1894 to 1935. Because the dates are all jumbled together, we have to work to untangle the stories present vision of America from the vision of the past.

Questions About Visions of America

  1. How does the story comment on America? What are the positive comments being made? What are the negative ones?
  2. Does the character of Tobe say something to us about America? If not, what might be the purpose of the character.
  3. Does the novel say anything about the American dream? What might the American dream look like to some of the different characters?

Chew on This

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

The second paragraph of the first section of "A Rose for Emily" gives us all the clues we need to find out what the story is saying about America.

The story shows how difficult it was for southern people to deal with the new America represented by the Emancipation Proclamation.

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