Study Guide

A Rose for Emily Versions of Reality

By William Faulkner

Versions of Reality

Section 1

Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it. (1.3)

This sentence reflects an aspect of the narrator's peculiar bias. The Colonel's trick has been used before and will be used again. When people are desperate, men or women, they will believe many things, as long as these things are put in just the right way.

Miss Emily Grierson

[Miss Emily:] "See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson." (1.12)

Although Miss Emily couldn't bring back the dead Colonel, she could sure make her version of the reality remained the reality. She never paid taxes in Jefferson.

Section 2
Judge Stevens

"Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?" (2.9)

We know that this version of reality (covering up the smell) is no longer regarded as a suitable way to deal with a crime. The question is, did the Judge know the cause of the stench at the moment, or not?

She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. (2.13)

The story makes it pretty clear that Emily's version of reality (that her father wasn't dead) was pretty near the truth. The town stepped in to enforce his role in his absence.

Section 3

When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: "For rats." (3.14)

Again we see attempts to tweak and hide reality, this time by the town pharmacist, who evidently, spent his afternoon and evening spreading the word that Miss Emily had bought arsenic.