Study Guide

A Rose for Emily Compassion and Forgiveness

By William Faulkner

Compassion and Forgiveness

Section 1

Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily's father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. (1.3)

This seems like a compassionate moment. The old ways have their charm. The newer generation might revoke this deal because it represents the kind of privileging that lead to Emily's eventual decline. Maybe not remitting her taxes would have pushed her towards being an ordinary member in the community.

Section 2

We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will. (2.14)

This contributes to the reader's compassion for Emily, and perhaps represents a genuine moment of compassion on the part of the town. How would Emily feel about all this compassion?

At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. (2.13)

This is a bare and brutal humanization. Emily was still an object to the townspeople, a symbol onto which they could pour their frustrations. Is this a moment of true compassion?

Section 4

So the next day we all said, "She will kill herself"; and we said it would be the best thing. (4.1)

Where's the compassion, town? This moment is really jarring. When it's clear that the town is complicit in her demise, our compassion, and indignation, is sparked.