Watkins’ Article on the Story “A Rose for Emily”

In the article, Watkins praises Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” through its unique structure. Watkins, describing it as one of Faulkner’s best, goes into detail explaining the breakup of the different sections showing how it affects the depiction of the story. Watkins explains the sections saying that each one allowed Faulkner to focus in on specific aspects of Emily’s life along with the changes occuring in southern society. He believed that Faulkner “based [each section] on incidents of isolation and intrusion” as he describes the events representing her isolation and refusal to changes within southern society. Originally referring to Faulkner’s short story as having a “structural problem” then goes into explain how the setup and portrayal of the events in the story have perfect symmetry. To add onto this, Watkins compares Faulkner’s structure to that of Hawthorn. He explains that the structure of the short story “A Rose for Emily” is very similar to the setup of multiple of Hawthorne’s works, but rare in Faulkner’s. Faulkner’s unique setup is also compared to that of The scarlet letter. Both are explained to include platform (significant) events within the beginning ,middle and end of the stories.

In this article, Sullivan works to explain the importance of the narrator on the interpretation of Faulkner’s work “A Rose for Emily”. Sullivan begins describing the background of the work taking place in the south following the civil war. With the historical background in mind, she begins to describe an interpretation of Faulkner’s work as a “mere horror story about necrophilia and madness”. To further explain this depiction, Sullivan discusses the narrator’s role in the story. Written in a first person point of view, the narrator is unknown with no deemed age, sex, or any information regarding them. Sullivan assumes the narrator to be an “innocent” person living in the town and bases this assumption off of the detailed observations of Emily’s life by the narrator. Noting the references to the different generations of people in the south, such as the new and upcoming generation and Colonel Sartoris generation, Sullivan makes inferences about the narrator describing them as a child with Emily being the mother figure.

Throughout the article, Sullivan continues to tie the relationship between the narrator and protagonist by describing the narrator to be looking up to Emily as they observe her life. Another prominent interpretation would be portraying the relationship between Emily and the townspeople. Sullivan began explaining this perspective of Emily being seen as a god-like figure. She goes onto support this by describing her isolation, and events such as being remitted from paying taxes and the fact that everyone was afraid to confront her during the odor incident coming from her house. The actions of the townspeople, in this case elevating Emily’s status, can affect a person’s interpretation of the characters in the story and the overall plot.

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Watkins' article on the story "A Rose for Emily". (2022, Aug 23). Retrieved September 23, 2022 , from

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