The Aspect of Time in William Faulkner´s Short Story A ROSE FOR EMILY

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2003

20 Pages, Grade: 1,0




2.1 Chronology of William Faulkner´s Life and Works
2.2 Influences on Faulkner´s Fiction
2.3 Faulkner and Short Stories

3.1 The Story Line of Events
3.2 The Chronological Line of Events
3.3 Decay as a Symbol of the Passage of Time
3.4 Faulkner’s Two Conflicting Views of Time
3.5 Emily’s Life in the Past




“The fact that I have moved my characters around in time successfully, at least in my own estimation, proves to me my theory that time is a fluid condition which has no ecistance exept in the momentary avatars of individual people.”[1]

William Faulkner

William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is a very complex and coherent short story. The story is set after Civil War in the southern town Jefferson, a town clinging to the Old South’s values but adapting the eventual changes that the Reconstruction Era brings with it. The heroine Miss Emily Grierson is the last member of the old aristocratic Grierson family.

When searching for “the” theme of the story, one is confronted with many possible solutions: the conflict between North and South, the conflict between the individual and the community, between men and women. No matter though, what the results are, one aspect cannot be ignored: it is the aspect of time, the conflict between the past and the present.[2]

There are many possibilities to approach this aspect. The tragedy that Faulkner describes involves the key issue of the passing of time and the related changes. I will show how the author makes it visible by exploring the significance of decay as a sign for passing time.

Time itself suggests the presence of a past and a present. On this issue Faulkner presents two conflicting views within the story, which I will examine with a special interest on the view that Miss Emily inherits.

In this paper I will also try to clarify the importance of the difference of the story line of events and the actual chronological order of the scenes of Miss Emily’s life.

Before examining the story, I will give an overview of the life and work of William Faulkner, followed by a note on influences on his fiction and the significance of his short stories.


2.1 Chronology of William Faulkner´s Life and Works

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten[4]

2.2 Influences on Faulkner´s Fiction

One of the three most important influences on Faulkner`s writings were the family legends passed down to him. The legends and stories about his great-grandfather William Falkner had already fascinated him when he was a boy. Colonel Falkner appears in Faulkner´s fiction as Colonel John Sartoris (“Sartoris”, “Absalom, Absalom!”, “The Unvanquished” a.o.). Faulkner´s Negro nurse-mammy parallels at least partially Dilsey (“The Sound and the Fury”).

The results of Faulkner´s brief association with literary circles in New York and New Orleans were “Soldiers Pay”, “Mosquitoes” and some short stories.

The greatest influence though was the Mississippi world in which Faulkner lived most of his life. That region, with its history, its traditions and values, its people and communities and its countryside delivered a lot of material for his fictional Yoknapatawpha County.[5]

2.3 Faulkner and Short Stories

Faulkner wrote well over one hundred short stories, many of them collected in above mentioned volumes. Some of his stories though Faulkner obviously decided not to collect, because he revised them for his novels. “Collected Stories” is considered the most important volume of Faulkner´s short stories since it reveals the full range of his fiction. All of the important Yoknapatawpha characters appear in it, linking the stories to his novels. However, there is also a sufficient number of stories set elsewhere. The volume contains material from all phases of his career, demonstrating characteristic themes and forms.[6]

Each of his stories posesses a coherent structure and significance for itself but is at the same time part of the whole, of “the continuum of Faulkner´s oeuvre”, which centers in his design of Yoknapatawpha County, its inhabitants and its history[7].

Faulkner found short stories to be, after poetry, the most difficult of literary forms and more demanding than a novel. He put a lot of effort in his work in short fiction but still his stories never earned as much attention as his novels.[8]

“A Rose for Emily” is Faulkner´s first nationally published story. It is considered one of his greatest mystery stories and for many reasons worth reading.


[1] William Faulkner, cited in Carothers, James B.: William Faulkner´s Short Stories. Ann Arbor, Michigan 1985, p. 4.

[2] See Carothers, p. 9.

[3] Different Chronologies state different dates and reasons. However, the title page of his first publication “A Marble Faun“ (1924) carried “by William Faulkner” and he kept that spelling since.

[4] See Weinstein, Philip M. (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner. Cambridge 1995, pp. XV-XIX; Thompson, Lawrance: William Faulkner – An Introduction and Interpretation. New York, New York 1967, pp. IX-XI; Ford, Margaret Patricia; Kincaid, Suzanne: Who´s Who in Faulkner. Binghampton, New York 1963, p. 3-12, Inge, Thomas M. (ed.): William Faulkner – A Rose for Emily. Columbus, Ohio 1970, pp. 1-7.

[5] See Ford / Kincaid, pp. 3-11.

[6] See Carothers, pp. 1-2, 18.

[7] See Caothers, p. 3

[8] See Carothers, pp. 1,3,7.

Excerpt out of 20 pages


The Aspect of Time in William Faulkner´s Short Story A ROSE FOR EMILY
University of Hamburg  (Fachbereich Sprach-, Literatur- und Medienwissenschaft - Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
Seminar II: Ethnicity in the Short Stories of William Faulkner
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
454 KB
Aspect, Time, William, Faulkner´s, Short, Story, ROSE, EMILY, Seminar, Ethnicity, Short, Stories, William, Faulkner
Quote paper
Dipl. HDL Kerstin Gehmlich (Author), 2003, The Aspect of Time in William Faulkner´s Short Story A ROSE FOR EMILY, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Aspect of Time in William Faulkner´s Short Story A ROSE FOR EMILY

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free