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A Rose for Emily

            From the lack of critical commentary on Homer Barron's sexuality, we might conclude that scholars are ignoring a question often raised and vigorously answered by undergraduates, who can be homophobic or just fascinated with even mild sexual references in literature: Homer Barron, they insist, is homosexual. But now the scholars have spoken, apparently legitimizing the suspicion that "Miss Emily's beau is gay" (Blythe 49). .
             To support this contention, Blythe and many students cite as a key piece of evidence the narrator's explanation of why Homer did not marry Emily: .
             Then we said, "She will persuade him yet," because Homer himself had remarked--he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks' Club--that he was not a marrying man. (126) .
             The comment is not, of course, Faulkner's, nor is it entirely a paraphrase of Homer's original comment, as Blythe suggests it is. The statement is the narrator's, and that part of the sentence most indicting--the part between the dashes--is spoken suggestively, with a sly wink and a nudge of the elbow, in an attempt to disparage Homer's character. To believe that the narrator here reveals something true about Homer is to become exactly like the narrator and his society of gossipy, nosy neighbors.(n1) .
             That he and his community are consummate gossips is made clear by his confessions of having "learned" information and by his ability to relay supposedly accurate details about events he did not witness. He describes in exquisite detail, for example, the visit of the deputation sent to collect Miss Emily's taxes: .
             [W]hen they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain. (120-121) .
             The reader must wonder how the narrator knows all this, unless he is one of the aldermen, talking about himself in the third person to hide his complicity.

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