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The Mystery of the Rose and the Narrator in A Rose for Emily by Faulkner

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While one of the most traditional interpretations of “A Rose for Emily” is the variety of meanings for the “rose” presented in the title and how the “rose” fits in with the story. Laura Getty states in her article many varied perspectives that many could ponder when identifying what the “rose” stands for. She states many possible theories that depict what the “rose” means, including theories of other writers that help support her own theory and also that adds another way that most might not consider at first. Most of the interpretations of the rose are all focused on the “internal elements” (Getty 231) rather than the actual rose itself. Getty theorizes about certain characters, buildings, anything that symbolizes a rose in the story as the possible meaning of the “Rose” in the title. As Getty states her own theories and those of scholars, she theorizes that “if these various symbols [Homer’s body, Emily’s state of mind, the narrator’s tribute] in the story are petals in the rose, it is important to note that the ‘Rose’ of the title gathers all of these references together in a way that moves beyond any one source” (231). This quote simply means that all of the symbols that have been derived from the story could be the petals to the “rose” that make up the actual rose itself. “The story is, after all, a literary construct, and it is constructed under the title, or in this case sub rose” (231) which is another position Getty states. However, since we do not actually know what the rose stands for, maybe that is how the author wants it to be: a secret kept in complete secrecy. Getty quotes Hendrickson who helps support Getty’s theory of sub rosa, saying:
According to legend, the Greek god of silence, Harpocrates, stumbled upon Venu...


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...ble meanings of “sweet or cherished” (Petry 53), she also states that Terry Heller, another literary source, stated that it could also mean “costly” (53). Petry connects the adjective “dear” to the first part of the story:
That we see Emily refusing to pay her municipal taxes, despite a direct confrontation with the Board of Aldermen. The second adjective, “inescapable,” refers to the incident of “the smell” in Part II: as the body of Homer Barron decomposes, the town cannot escape this graphic testimony to Emily’s presence in the community. The third adjective, “impervious,” would serve as an ideal title for Part III: Emily stonily refuses to concede to the law in the regard to the purchase of poison (53).
I thought this was a brilliant connection that Petry made and I completely agree with all of her connections made with the adjectives and the time of the story.


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