Emily's Rose of Love: Thematic Implications of Point of View in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" Author(s): Helen E. Nebeker Reviewed work(s): Source: The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Mar., 1970), pp. 3-13 Published by: Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1346461 . Accessed: 12/01/2012 04:08 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. http://www.jstor.org CRITICISM EMILY'SROSE OF LOVE: THEMATICIMPLICATIONSOF POINT OF VIEW IN FAULKNER'S"A ROSE FOR EMILY" HELENE. NH:.4H:KK * The thesisof this paper,simplystated,is thatfortyyearsof criticalstudy of Faulkner'sshort story,"A Rose for Emily,"has failed to come to grips with the problemof its narrativefocus or point of view. Furthermore,I will contendthat this failureto fully explorethe significanceof the narrative voice has obscuredseveralessentialpointsof the story,chief of which is the underlyinghorrorof Faulkner'sreal theme, a theme which he has kept successfullyhidden throughthe years within his deliberatestructuralambiguity and behind his anonymousnarrator. As mostreadersare no doubtaware,the generalview of criticsregarding the anonymous,ubiquitousnarratoris that he is a kind of innocuous, naive, passive citizen of Jefferson,who relatesfor the readerthe story of Miss Emily'slife and death. Or, in the wordsof one criticsummingup the prevailing view, he is " ... a townsman, gifted in the art of storytale-telling, shiftinghis identityimaginativelyas he moves throughthe story." Or, as another group of critics states, the narrator simply records " . . . the pro- gress or advancein the ... knowledgeof Emily'stownsmen... a growth frombemusedtolerance,to suspicion,to knowledge,to horror. . " at Emily's crime. Fromthesemoreor less similarviews of the narrator,the criticsproceed to developtheirinterpretations of MissEmily as the proud,unbending monumentof the Old Southwho somehowtriumphsover time and change, therebyevokingadmirationconjoinedwith pity.' On the surface,suchexplanationof bothnarratorand thememay suffice. Butif one lookssharplyandcriticallyat the pointof view chosenby Faulkner, rememberingthat the basic structuralresourceof a writeris point of view whichbecomes,in the wordsof MarkSchorer,a mode of thematicdefinition, and if one acknowledgesthe masteryof Faulknerin mergingperson,time, place, and events, the importance of his chosen point of view should not be *I want to thankmy colleague, ProfessorGeorge Herman,with whom I first discussed these ideas, for the suggestionsand encouragementhe gave me in writing this article. 'For a few useful and interestingreferences to these interpretations,see: Cleanth Brooks and R. P. Warren, The Scope of Fiction (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960), pp. 302-306. Donald Heiney, Recent AmericanLiterature(Great Neck, N.Y.: Barron'sEducational Series, Inc., 1958), pp. 224-225. Ray B. West, Jr., Reading the Short Story, (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1968), pp. 82-85. Explicators: VI (May, 1948), item 45; VII (Oct., 1948), item 8; XIX (Jan., 1961), item 26; XX (May, 1962), item 78; XXII (April, 1964), item 68. 4 RMMLA BULLETIN MARCH 1970 so lightly dismissed. However in just such dismissal, readers and critics alike have permitted themselves to be fooled by a master story-tellerwho lays out point by point the details of a horror far more monstrous than that of a poor demented woman who kills her lover. For the truth of the Miss Emily episode lies, not in the character and motivation of Miss Emily, but in the identity of the narrator. And to arrive at that identity, the reader must untangle the deliberate ambiguity of the various pronoun references which control the point of view. Once this is done, the implicit horrorof the story is clearly revealed, and from that horror, a new, more subtle theme emerges, revealing starkly and undeniably the significance of the "rose"of the title. The reader of "A Rose for Emily" realizes immediately the vagueness of the pronoun focus within this story. Within all five sections we note a continual shifting of person, from our to they to we (all italics added). And this shift is further complicated by implied shifts of referents for the various pronouns. That is, our does not always have the same referent, nor do they and we! For example, in Section I, this shifting ranges from the our of the opening sentence (our whole town), which we easily equate with the townspeople, to the they of the fourth paragraph (they mailed her a tax notice), equated at this point in the story with the generation of mayors and aldermen who took power after the paternal despotism of Colonel Sartoris, the man who abrogated the taxes of Miss Emily. In Section II, we are told that ". . . she vanquished them" (the generation indicated above) "just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before. . . " (another previous generation). And in the shifting chronology of events in this passage, their fathers becomes the they of the Board of Aldermen, "three gray beards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation,"who confer about the odor at Miss Emily's house. Thus, in the first two sections, we have ambiguously but definably presented before us three groups-the general townspeople of the inclusive our; the they of a contemporarysociety functioning when Miss Emily was in her late 50s or early 60s and to whom she refused to pay taxes; and the they of an earlier group. This last group would have been a chronologically overlapping group composed of Emily's post-war contemporariesas well as the older pre-Civil War generation-men such as Colonel Sartoris who, unable to affront a needy lady with charity, concocted a story which permitted Miss Emily to accept charity in the form of remitted taxes and a Judge Stevens, eighty years old and unable to "accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad." Predictable Faulknerian generations: the autocratic pre-Civil War hierarchy to whom a lady is always a lady; the generation this hierarchy breeds, Emily's generation, characterized by decay, ruin, but also reverence for the past; the unknowing, uncaring, opportunistic new breed which will dun a lady for her taxes. ROSEOFLOVE EMILY'S 5 But challengingthis convenientcategorizationis the introductionin SectionII of a differentpronoun,the we who thoughtof Emily and her fatheras a tableau:"MissEmily a slenderfigurein white in the background, her fathera spraddledsilhouettein the foreground,his back to her, clutching a horsewhip . .. "; the we who were not pleased but vindicated when she reachedthirtyand was still single;the we who did not say she was crazy then because they rememberedall the young men her father had driven away.Traditionallythishas been acceptedas a universalwe, referringto the townspeopleas a whole as indicatedby the previous"ourwhole town"it supposedlyis the we of publicrumor,piecemealhearsay.But this interpretation avoidsan extremelypertinentquestion:why is this we separatedfrom the they who, still in SectionII of the story,began to feel sorryfor Emily after Homer'sdisappearance,rememberingher great aunt's madness;the they who pity her, alone and destituteat her father'sdeath;the they who buried her fatherquickly? Upon careful considerationit seems obviousthat, in this we, another grouphas been introducedinto the personaeof the story-a smallergroup whose membershave personallyseen the tableau of daughterand father with upraisedwhip. Whip upraisedagainstwhat? The town and life in general? Or young men in particular?-youngmen of Emily'sown generation, none of whom "werequite good enoughfor Miss Emily"and who are "vindicated"(avenged?) by her spinsterhood. It is conceivablethat this we, in the contextin which it is presented,is the disappointedbut still devoted group of suitorsthat surroundedevery belle of the Southernmyth, suitorsnot sociallyprominentenoughto be acceptableto the Old Aristocracy but of a breeding,position,and means superiorto the they-the general townspeople-whomust reduce Emily from an untouchablemonumentto an impoverishedpitiablehuman? Is thiswe a selectgroupto whomEmilyis a "care"(paragraph3) as opposedto the they to whom she is a "duty"(the older generationwhichbelievesin the protectionof SouthernWomanhood)? thisis morethanjust a defensiblesupposition. Structurally Entertaining this possibility, and holding in abeyance momentarily the final intriguingparagraphof SectionII, let us pursuethe pronounshifting a little further. SectionIII introducesBarron,the NorthernOutsider,gross, arrogant, dynamic;and in connectionwith him, againthe we. We saw MissEmily after her illness as girlishand somewhatangelicwith her shorthair;we were glad she had an interest;we believedshe was fallen.Juxtaposedwith this we is the they of the older tradition-boundpeople who knew that even grief couldnot accountfor Emily'slapsewith Homer(the implicationin the light of the variousreferencesto insanityis, of course,that Emily must be mad) and who began to say "PoorEmily." And then the they of a youngerand less aristocraticgroupwho began to whisperaboutEmily and Homer after 6 RMMLA BULLETIN MARCHi 1970 the olderpeoplehad set the precedent. Here againis the groupingpreviously mentioned (without, of course, the youngest group which is not yet and the small, exclusive grown)-the Old Order,Emily's contemporaries, groupof we. Concludingthis same SectionIII is an accurate,knowledgeablerevelationof MissEmilybuyingthe arsenic,a scenedramaticin presentation,without equivocation. What observerwitnessedthat scene? Who remembered and repeatedthe exactwords? Who could possiblyreportthat when Miss Emilyopenedthe box of poisonat homeshe foundwrittenon it the notation, "Forrats"? To explainthis knowledgeas public rumor,commongossip, is to ignore the care of Faulkneras an artist and to grossly oversimplify the narrativestructureof this story. Reasonably,only the druggistcould have knownthe facts of the rat poisonepisodeand it seems obviousthat it was the druggistwho lookeddown at her and saw her face like a "strained flag." Now would the druggist,havingtacitly violatedthe law (and even believingthat Emilywould commitsuicide),2 have made this episodepublic gossip? If so, he not only indicts himself, but the whole town quite literally connivesat murder. Thus this interpretationseems unlikely. He might,however,have revealedit confidentiallyto an intimateor two, those who, like him, "watchedover" (and spied upon) Miss Emily. With this idea in mind, referback to SectionII which relatesan episode which tookplace two yearsafterthe deathof Emily'sfather,afterher purchaseof the poison,and a shorttime after the disappearanceof Homer Barron. Becauseof complaintsaboutthe smell at Emily'shouse,the Board of Aldermen,"threegraybeardsand one younger man, a memberof the rising generation,"have met. Subsequentlyfour men skulkedabout her house, sniffing,sowing lime. In a week or two the smell went away. Interestingquestionsareraisedhere. Firstof all, who are the four men prowling outside Miss Emily'shouse, even breakinginto the cellar to sprinkle the lime? The Board of Aldermen,spied upon by an outsiderwho later revealsthe episode? But how would an outsiderknow of the earlierBoard meetingin suchdetail? Is it justpossiblethatthe youngerman of the Board, assistedby threecohortswho have been alertedto the situation,acts to forestallfurtherinvestigation?Do we have at least a tenableclue to the ambiguous we when we link this episodewith that of the rat poison? Can we imagine the rising young aldermanand the druggist (with at least two who speculate,discussthe eventsof Emily'slife among others) as conspirators themselves? At any rate, whatevertheir identity, these four men act to protectMissEmily. Why? What do these men suspect? And why, "after a week or two,"does the smell go away? It takesweeks for the smell of a decomposingbody to dissipate-andwe the readersknow that the lime has 2Notein the light of the rest of this discussion,the implicationsof the druggist'swillingness to let her commitsuicide-or perhapsto suggest by means of his label that the poison might betterbe used on someoneelse. EMILY'SROSEOF LOVE 7 never touchedthe sourceof the corruption!What happensto stop the odor unlessthe body is eithercompletelydestroyedor sealedoff in an airlessroom? And who sealsit: MissEmilyalertedby the skulkingmen? Cohortsin crime who advise Miss Emily that somethingmust be done to prevent public action? Hold these pointsin reservetemporarily. Now we must look for a momentat the structuraland chronological significanceof SectionII. As we have alreadydiscovered,in this section the variousgroupswithin Jeffersonhave been carefully,if obscurely,introduced. But more than this, every majorepisode exceptEmily'sdeath has also been introduced,merged within a kind of ebbing and flowing continuumof time-a structuraltechniqueessentialto Faulkner'spurpose. Note that in the firstparagraphwe start with a referenceto a fairly recent occurrence,the attemptto collectEmily'staxes,and shift in the same sentence to a referenceconcerningthe smell which occurredafter her father'sdeath and Homer'sdisappearance.Then we slip back to her father'sdeath (interestinglyjuxtaposedby a semicolonto her sweetheart'sgoing away), the consequentvisit of the ladies, the referenceto the Negro servantwho is Emily'slone retainer,and from him to the smell again, which is accepted by the ladiesas conclusiveproofthat no man couldkeep a kitchenproperly. All of this in ten lines. And from this chronologicaljump-off,we learn of the secretnight visit by the fourmen. Then,in the eleventhparagraphof SectionII, we read,'That was when people had begun to feel really sorryfor her,"rememberinghow insanity ran in Emily'sfamily. But in the confusingchronologicalsequencejust indicated, to what time period does that sentence refer? Surely not to the precedingline, "Aftera week or two the smell went away." Does it referto her father'sdeath? To Homer'sdisappearance?It is impossibleto tell in the mergingof eventspresentedto our view. But two paragraphslater we are told aboutEmily'srefusalto admither father'sdeath, and how they, about to resortto force, were finally permittedby Miss Emily to disposeof the body. Thenthatcuriouslastparagraphwhichwe wereholdingin abeyance: We didnotsaythatshewascrazythen. Webelievedshehadto do that. We remembered all theyoungmenherfatherhaddrivenaway,andwe knewthat withnothingleft, she wouldhaveto clingto thatwhichhad robbedher, as peoplewill. Again we carefullyseparatedfrom they. And again the question,to what period of time does that paragraphrefer? I suggestthat it not only refersto Emily's attemptto keep her father'sbody, but, in an already establishedpatternof time transformance, to events followinghis death-the purchaseof the poison,the disappearanceof Homer,and the development of the smell. In otherwords, we did not admit that she was crazy thenwhen she keptthe body of her father,when she boughtthe poison;we knew 8 RMMLA BULLETIN MARCH 1970 she had to do that-keep her father'sbody, buy the poison. But note the full implicationsof then and that. When did we say that she was crazy? After we realizedthe significanceof the smell? When we knew that she had murderedHomer? We knew she had to do that-deny the death of her father, keep her lover'sbody, her loverwho had robbedher of even her pride (her fatherhavingdeprivedher of all hope of an acceptableformof love because of his family pride). In the unfoldinghorrorof these possibilitieslies the defenseforwhathasbeen criticizedas an unnecessarily complicatedstructure and chronology.Throughthis structureand chronologywith its merging and confusingof events and participants,Faulknerpermitshis firstperson narratorto masknot only his identitybut also to concealfromus the knowledge he or ratherthey have concerningEmily'shorriblecrime. This is the geniusof Faulkner. The clues are all there as early as the second section, even thoughwe will continuethroughthree moresections,still unawareof the magnitudeof the horrorunfoldingbeforeus. In SectionIV, the mergingof time and events continues. Following the purchaseof the poison,"we all said" (note the clue here that the select we groupis largerthan the two alreadyidentified) that Emily would kill herself"andthatwould be the best thing".(Thatis, the traditionof aristocratic honormustnot be violated.) Time then telescopesto the whole affairbetween Emily and Homer. The pronounsin this sectionare much less confusing. The whole town knows about the affair;everyonesees Emily and Homer. The minoritywe becomesmore or less a part of the generalwe, and all of us side with MissEmily againstthe outsideGriersonswho "were even moreGriersonthan MissEmilyhad ever been." And then Homerdisappears after having been seen entering the kitchen door at dusk-the front door is closed and Miss Emily does not appearon the street for six months. Thenwhen we next see her, she has grownfat and gray;her front doorremainsclosedfor someyearsuntil she opensit to give paintinglessons to a few of hercontemporaries andtheirchildren. (Chronologically, Emilyis thirty-twowhen Homerdisappears,forty-ishwhen she fits up approximately her studio.) Then, the "newergeneration"-asecond generationfrom Emily-succeeds as the "spiritof the town,"a generationto whom Emily is neither "tradition" nor "duty"and certainlynot "care"in the sense of any kind of attentionor personalinvolvement,and so the frontdoor closes irrevocably. Whenthe town gets free postaldelivery(symbolicof the new order), Emily will not let them attachthe numbersand mailboxabove her door. Years pass as we watchher Negrogrow older. Now we-not they-send her a tax noticeeach December. With the passageof years,only Emily, symbolicof the indomitablebut dying Old Southin all its decadence,pride, refusalto admitthe changingorder,remainsdistinguishable,definable. We have admitted the change, acceptedit, merged into it, become a part of the they. Only Emily "passedfromgenerationto generation-dear[to the old order], EMILY'S ROSE OF LOVE 9 inescapable[to her contemporary protectors],impervious[to the new order], tranquil[in her madness],and perverse[turnedto the illusorypast instead of reality]." And so she dies, alone, scarcely remembered,"in the house filledwith dustand shadows..." And with her death, the town gathers. The Negro attendantadmits the first visitorsand then, knowingthe horriblesecretof that upper room, walks out of the house and disappearsforever. The female cousinsarrive. The very old men, last of the GreatConfederacy,gatherto pay honorto a myth of the past, convincingthemselvesthat they had danced with and courtedEmily,althoughshe had in realitybelongedto a youngergeneration. They reminisce,"confusingtime with its mathematicalprogression,as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishingroad,but, instead,a huge meadow . . . " (Note that in these lines Faulknerhas clearlyrevealedhis structuralintent and his narrativesecret.) Emily lies beneath a mass of "boughtflowers,"not flowersgatheredby caringhands from lovinglytended gardens,but '"boughtflowers"tendered by a crass, unknowing,uncaring generation. Symbolically,the New South has triumphed. But in the midst of this triumph,once more, clearly and finally, the emergenceof that separatewe. "Alreadywe knew that therewas one room in that regionabove stairswhich no one had seen in forty years and which would have to be forced." The implicationshere are overwhelming. We knewwhatwas in thatroom;we had knownit for fortyyears! Emily died at seventy-four;her fatherhad died when she was approximatelythirty-oneor thirty-two;Homerhad disappearedtwo yearslater. And someonehad seen that roomafterhis death,forty years earlier,or had suspectedwhat it contained. Now the readerunderstandsclearlywhat has been suggestedearlier -that the roomhad been sealedshortlyafterdecompositionof Homer'sbody had begun, eitherby Miss Emily herself or by accomplicesafter-the-fact.3 Someonehad lockedthat door;someonehad disposedof the key so that they would have to break down the door after Miss Emily was decentlyin the ground. Now if Miss Emily had lockedthe doorherselfand thrownaway the key, how do we know that the roommust be forced;how do we know that no one has seen that roomin forty years? Have not we, knowingher horriblecrime, concurringin it, even abetting it, stood guard, protected, cherishedthesemanyyearsthis putrescentsymbolof a way of life long dead, almostforgotten? Do we, almostas lovers,offerthis last appallingact of devotion-the keepingof her ghastlysecret-as a final tribute,as our "rosefor Emily"? A rosein sharp,poignant,horriblecontrastto the "boughtflowers" of a new generation? In other words, as alien outside forces seemingly triumphover Emily in death,have not we, in reality,finallycuckoldedthey 3Thiswriter'smotherrecallsclearly, as a child in the South, the sealing up of a roomin which a sister had died of diphtheria.She remembersthat it was a time-consumingand difficulttask for her father and believes it would have been impossiblefor the strength of her mother. 10 RMMLA BULLETIN MARCH1970 in the keeping of our macabre secret? And in preserving-or using-Emily,4 we have kept untarnished the honor and myth of the South! Now, in this last act of the drama, as they force the door, we note the remembered (or anticipated) details of the room, almost as though a camera slowly moved from point to point. The violence of the falling door seems to fill the room with dust. The smell of the tomb pervades the bridal room, lying upon the faded rose of the bed curtains, the rose-shaded lights, the tarnished silver of the toilet articles, the men's clothes. And then the body. Rotting, grimacing, "cuckolded"by death (as well as by aged lovers?) lies Homer Barron. No shock, no surprise as we view the scene, just careful attention to every detail. And then, "one of us" lifts something from the pillow, a long strand of Emily's iron-gray hair. Now, upon the threshold of that room and from the obscuritiesand complexities of structure and personae, the truth of time and circumstance emerges for the reader. From that room the odor of death and corruption assaults our senses and we, the readers, know the final horror. The guilt of a crazed old lady is clear, horrible but comprehensible in the light of her loss, her insanity. But the odor of the "roseof love" proffered Emily by those aged lovers, sickens, suffocates, is beyond our comprehension. The composite we looms monstrous,corrupt. And through that monstrouswe, Faulkner offers us a frightening comment on the moral fabric of the Southern social structure. For thus he tells us that the immediate post-war remnant of the Old Southern hierarchy-symbolized in the person of Emily-lies dead, buried, even pardoned in the light of her heritage, her madness, her incorruptible endurance. But another remnant of this Old South-symbolized in the persons of the anonymous ancient suitors-lives on, linked only tenuously and superficially to that now-dead, indomitable aristocracy. Inferior in every way to the clans of Sartoris and Grierson (perhaps even to the minor aristocracy of Barrons), this order yet lusts and covets consummation. Torn between envy and revulsion, love and hate, it protects and extends the myth of its idol. Robbed of everything else, even as Emily had been robbed, it clings to the rotting body of the loved one-just as Emily had clung to the dead body of her father (the past) and the rotted body of her lover (the present and future)-cherishing it even as it putrefies and maddens before its eyes, even as it dies. Insidious, monstrous, unforgivably corrupt, this sub-culture merges into the innocuous they of respectability and modernity. In the form of Emily's secret protectors, sane, deliberate, knowing, this group stands selfrighteously and horribly amid the final debacle, proffering to Emily-at once its victim and its care-its loathsome rose of love. 4See footnote 2 above EMILY'sROSEOF LOVE 11 Addendum To thosewho respondto the thesisof this paperwith the question,"But how do you explainthe gray hair on the pillow?"may I point out that forty yearsof criticalattentionhas not been able to settle this problem. Nor can this question,in the contextof the story,everbe fully clarified. However, three specificpointscan be made. First of all, this critical questionof the gray hair has servedas a red herringfor Faulknerthrough the years, almostcompletelydivertingattentionfrom the real problemof the story, the narrativefocus. Secondly, we can point out that there is one obvious point of confusionin the critical studiesin relation to the time at which Miss Emily'shair turned gray. This error is rooted in Section IV of the story, after Homer had been admitted at dusk and MissEmily disappearsfrompublic view for "almostsix months." There follows anothersentenceand then the next paragraphbegins, Whenwe nextsawMissEmily,shehadgrownfat andherhairwasturning gray. Duringthe nextfew yearsit grewgrayerandgrayeruntilit obtained an evenpepper-and-salt irongray,whenit ceasedturning. Up to the day of herdeathat seventy-four it wasstillthatvigorousiron-gray ... Criticshave confusedMissEmily'sappearanceafterthe six-monthinterval with the time when we (in the contextof this paper'sthesis) next saw her. Thereis no way of absolutelyequatingthe referencesnor of accurately pin-pointinghow long afterHomer'sdeathEmily'shairbegan to turn. We can say, however,thatat sometime subsequentto the sealingup of the room and afterthe smell of the corpsehad dissipated,Emily had found a way to enter the room and had lain-whether briefly or often we cannot know (because the narratorcannotknow!)-beside the corpse. When that room is entered,the only thing seeminglyunanticipatedby the narrator-group is that long strand of iron-grayhair which one of us lifts from the pillow. Thus,carryingmy thesisto its furthestconclusion:just as we (the Old South) have cuckoldedthey (the new), triumphingover them in this moment of death, so has Emily ultimatelycuckoldedus (the old lovers) and Faulkner'stheme is broughtfull circle. We, the readers,are left in complete knowledgethat Emily'sSouth,though dead and buried and forgiven, has left its horrorimprintedforeveron the structureand in the personsof the present. CHRONOLOGY OF "A ROSE FOR EMILY" 1863 (ca.) Emily bom. 1893 Emily'sfather dies. (Emilyis just past thirty.) 1894 Taxesare remittedby ColonelSartorisretroactiveto his death. (Probably a time lapse of approximatelya year for tax notices.) 1895-96 Homer disappears,the smell develops. Emily is past thirty, her fatherhas been dead two years. Emily is not seen on the streetsfor 12 RMMLA BULLETIN MARCH1970 almost six months. Contraryto generalcriticism,taken contextually one cannotassumedefinitelythat Emily was turninggray when she appearedafter six months. Althoughthe paragraphfollowing this referenceto the six-monthtime lapse begins, "When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turninggray,"we have no way of knowingwhethera furthertime lapse is involved or not. 1895-96 N.B.: The room must have been sealed almost immediatelyfollowing the sprinklingof the lime. No lime ever touchesthe body and the smell of a rottingcorpselingersfor weeks! 1902-10 Emily is about forty when she begins to give china-paintinglessons. This would be one of the few genteel avenuesof incomefor a destitute 'lady" of her time. 1910 Colonel Sartorisdies about this time. This would account for the falling off of her pupils-he can no longer influencehis childrenand friendsto subsidizeMiss Emily, just as he will no longer be able to controlthe matterof her taxes. 1920-25 A second Board of Aldermencalls upon her personallyabout her taxes. This is thirty years after their fathers had dealt with the problemof the smell (approx.1925) or eight to ten years after she ceased giving paintinglessons (approx.1920). Emily would be between fifty-sevenand sixty-two. 1937 (ca.) Emily dies. Althoughthe narratortells us that no one had entered her house for at least ten years, since no mention is made of any specificvisit, we might assumethat in the chronologyof the seventyfour years of Emily'slife and the forty-fouryearsencompassedsince her father'sdeath some discrepancyof time is to be expected-especiallywhen one recognizesthe secret of the narrator-andthat the visit by the tax collectorswas the last time her doorswere opened. OVERLAPPING(PREDICTABLY (CA.) 1830-1936 FAULKNERIAN)GENERATIONS I. OLD ARISTOCRACY-Pre-Civil War (The proud, indomitableautocracy with its belief in "itsflowerof SouthernWomanhood";those to whom Emily is "a duty") ColonelSartoris Grierson Judge Stevens The "veryold men"in their Confederateuniformsat the funeral They who know that even grief cannot account for Emily's lapse with Homer II. POST-WARGENERATION (those to whom Emily is "a care") A. Aristocraticdespendantsof Old Aristocracy Emily B. Less sociallyacceptablebut "spiritualheirs"of the Old South 1. The they "whomeet aboutthe smell" (a) three old graybeards(Judge Stevens) (b) one youngerman, a memberof the risinggeneration 2. The they who begin to whisperaboutEmily and Homerafter the older people set the precedent EMILYmS ROSEOF LOVE 13 3. The "narrativewe," obviouslya chronologicalif not social peer group (a) we see Emily and her fatheras a tableau-note sexualovertones of that scene (b) we are "vindicated"when she is not marriedat 30 (c) we are there at her death and when the roomis opened (d) we (one of us) lift the hair from the pillow C. The Negro servant A young male Negro who serves Miss Emily until her death at 74, when he, "a dodderingold man,"disappears.He obviouslyknows the horridsecret,but we can forgivehim for not betrayinghis mistressin the traditionof the old Negro servitor-justas we can forgive her in the knowledge of her madness. But, can he be the only one who knowsthe horrorof that upstairsroom? III. A NEWER RISING GENERATION (Those to whom Emily is "a tradition") A. They mailedher tax noticesbut treatedher respectfully,and Emily "vanquished them" when they called on her (again, an overlapping age group) B. The daughtersand granddaughtersof Colonel Sartoris'contemporaries who "weresent"to her as paintingpupils IV. A NEWER SECOND GENERATION (Those to whom Emily is neither duty nor traditionnor care) A. They become the backboneand spiritof the town (Section IV) B. The granddaughters(See III-B above) who grow up and do not send their childrento her C. They try to fastenthe numbersoverher door and attacha mailboxto it D. They send "bought"flowers (not carefullynurtured,garden-grownflowers) V. A COMPOSITEPRODUCT A sub-culturewe, which is linked tenuouslyand superficiallyto the Old Aristocracy;which is a productof the Post-WarGeneration;which becomes a part of the Newer RisingGeneration,which, in turn, ultimately mergeswith the Newer SecondGenerationto become the innocuousthey of respectabilityand modernity. This we now sends her tax notices in the name of civic duty even as we had dutifullycompoundedher crime in the name of Southernhonor. Mrs. Nebeker (B.A., M.A., Arizona State University) teaches English at Arizona State University. She served as Secretary-Treasurerof the American Association of University Professors Conference in 1966-67. Her publications include an article titled "A Pragmatic Look at Linguistic Juncture" (Arizona English Bulletin, May 1964). She also has an article titled "A Bit of Heresy " in a book scheduled to appear this year, Improving College and University Teaching (Oregon State University Press). Emily's Rose of Love: A Postscript Author(s): Helen E. Nebeker Reviewed work(s): Source: The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Dec., 1970), pp. 190-191 Published by: Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1346728 . Accessed: 12/01/2012 04:18 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. http://www.jstor.org EMILY'SROSE OF LOVE: A POSTSCRIPT HELEN E. N.F,FTCER (ProfessorNebeker offers the following emendationto her earlier article, "Emily'sRose of Love,"which appearedin the March,1970 issue of the Bulletin.) Regardingmy article,"Emily'sRoseof Love: ThematicImplicationsof Point of View in Faulkner's'A Rose for Emily,'" March 1970, I must submit,with an admixtureof delight at discoveryand chagrinat original obtuseness,a slight emendationin the chronologyofferedat the end of the article,pp. 11-12. This correctioneliminatesthe only real discrepancyin the time sequence-that is, that the date of Emily's death, approximately 1937,is some sevenyearsafterthe dateof the firstpublicationof the storyin 1930. I, as well as other critics,have passedover this discrepancyas part of the license permittedany story-teller,whetherFaulkneror his narrator. Closercontextualanalysisdiscloses,however,that we need not grantFaulkner even this much license in this carefullyconstructedstory. The fact is that we err in assumingthat the date of 1894, mentionedso casuallyin the thirdparagraphof the story,refersto the date of the death of Emily's father,who died, we know, when Emily was about thirty. It simply does not! Ratherit specificallyrefersto the date when ColonelSartoris"remitted her taxes, the dispensationdating from the death of her father on into perpetuity."That the death and the remissionof taxes are not coincident becomesobviousin SectionIV when we are told in the seventhparagraph thatat the age of aboutforty,for six or seven years,Emily gave china-painting lessonsto the daughtersand granddaughtersof Colonel Sartoriswho "weresent to her with the same regularityand in the same spiritthat they were sent to churchon Sundaywith a twenty-five-centpiece for the collectionplate." The following-and last-line of the paragraphreads:"Meanwhile [italicsadded] her taxeshad been remitted." Since "meanwhile"by definitionmeans"in or duringthe interveningtime"or "atthe same time," the date of 1894 obviouslyrefersto thatperiodwhen Emily is in her forties and so destitute,having been left nothingby her fatherbut the house, that she must take in day-pupils.At this time, ColonelSartoris,who could not insult a lady by offeringher charity,abrogatesher taxes which have undoubtedlybeen accruingfor some ten years. Now, using 1894 as a date when Emily is in her forties,her birth date must be advancedto approximately1854 and all other dates changed accordingly. Emily died around1928 and Faulkner'snarratoris still relating his shockingstory two years later in generalaccord with the publication date, not from some point in the future. In view of this basic correction,I offer the following amendedchronology: 190 EMILY's ROSE OF LOVE: A POSTSCRIPT 191 1854 (ca.) Emily is bom. 1884 Emily's father dies. Homerdisappears;the smelldevelops; the roomis sealed. 1886 1894 Emily gives paintinglessons.Duringthis time, ColonelSartoris remitsher taxes. 1906 ColonelSartorisdies. 1916 The city fatherscall on her personallyabout her taxes, thirty years after their fathers had dealt with the problem of the smell (1886). "ColonelSartorishad been dead almost ten years." (Section I) 1928 (ca.) Emily dies. No one has seen the inside of the house for at least ten years. (Section I) 1930 Story written and published in 1930. Section I clearly indicates that Emily had died sometimepreviousto the time of narration. FROM THE SECRETARIAT As newly elected Executive Secretary of the RMMLA I cannot appropriately begin my term of office without expressing my deep appreciation for the efforts of those who have preceded me. I am particularly grateful to Professors Henry Pettit and Edward Nolan; their past aid has helped me immeasurably during my interim appointment and their future counsel will be no less welcome and valuable. In past years the RMMLA has developed from a small and relatively informal organization into an association which-both in size and diversityhas come to represent fully the interests of the entire Rocky Mountain area; its Bulletin has matured into a significant journal of scholarly and professional interest; and its annual meeting has grown into a forum for the interchange of scholarly ideas, pedagogical techniques, and professional information. I fervently hope that the RMMLA will continue to thrive and prosper in the future as it has in the past. In a sense, however, our past successes may prove to be a danger to our future development. For nothing would be easier than to rest on our laurels, to point with justifiable pride to our accomplishments while ignoring the demands the future will place upon us. We must remember that the essence of growth is continual change, and as our organization grows larger in size it must remain aware of the need for constant flexibility. An old but nonetheless apt illustration is the dinosaur, whose increase in size was concomitant with his inability to adapt to changing times. The simple growth of our organization can perhaps become almost automatic, but its development cannot. Organizational change depends upon a dialogue between the membership and their elected officers. May I urge you all to prevent any breakdown in this dialogue.