If you run your finger down the table of contents of most academic collections of fictional American Literature, you are likely to find a listing for William Faulkner's short story,A Rose for Emily.? While the popular appeal of this story may be based on its non-linear timeline and morbid climax, its lasting significance is derived from Faulkner's ability to create a story which is both entertaining and thought provoking. The story is laced with symbolism and imagery which are seamlessly integrated into the plot of this tragic tale. The organic nature of this symbolism gives the short story a unique depth. Not only does the symbolism enrich the story, it also creates many avenues for analysis. One of the best examples is the symbolism of aging and decay. This is displayed in the symbolic relationship between Emily and her house. They are inseparably linked from the first sentence of the story to the last. .
Faulkner does not slowly wade into this story. Rather, he uses the first sentence ofA Rose for Emily? to accomplish a host of literary objectives. First, he establishes the point of view in the form of a first-person narrator. The narrator, an unnamed townsperson, is presented as the voice of the town. He knows Emily's life story from the gossip, speculations, and legends of the town. Next, Faulkner uses the narrator, to accomplish four other functions; he begins to establish the plot, tone and setting for this story, as well as beginning the development of the main characters, Miss Emily Grierson and the town of Jefferson. .
Although other characters emerge throughout the story, the protagonist-antagonist relationship of Emily Grierson and the town of Jefferson is by far the most important element. Faulkner establishes this relationship straightway and develops it regularly. .
The town of Jefferson is more than simply the setting; it is a character with a voice and values.