“A Rose for Emily” is a short story by American author William Faulkner first published in the April 30, 1930 issue of Forum. It was Faulkner’s first short story published in a national magazine. Faulkner’s reasoning behind the story was here was a woman who has had a tragedy, an irrevocable tragedy and nothing could be done about it, and I pitied her and this was a salute to a woman you would hand a rose. The story is told by a narrator and begins at the huge funeral for Miss Emily Grierson. Nobody has been to her house in ten years, except for her black servant.
Her house is old, but was once the best house around. The town had a special relationship with Miss Emily ever since it decided to stop billing her for taxes in 1894. But, the newer generation was not happy with this arrangement, and so they paid a visit to Miss Emily and tried to get her to pay the debt. She refused to acknowledge that the old arrangement might not work anymore, and flatly refused to pay. Thirty years before, the tax collecting townspeople had a strange encounter with Miss Emily about a bad smell at her place.
This was about two years after her father died, and a short time after her lover disappeared from her life. The stink got stronger and complaints were made but the authorities did not want to confront Emily about the problem. So, they sprinkled lime around the house and the smell was eventually gone. Everybody felt sorry for Emily when her father died. He left her with the house, but no money. When he died, Emily refused to admit it for three whole days. The town did not think she was crazy then, but assumed that she just did not want to let go of her dad.
Not too long after her father died Emily begins dating Homer Barron, who is in town on a sidewalk-building project. Emily buys arsenic at the drugstore and the town thinks that Homer is leaving her and that she plans to kill herself. When she buys a bunch of men’s items, they think that she and Homer are going to get married. Homer leaves town, then the cousins leave town, and then Homer comes back. He is last seen entering Miss Emily’s house. Emily herself rarely leaves the home after that, except for a period of half a dozen years when she gives painting lessons.
Her hair turns gray, she gains weight, and she eventually dies in a downstairs bedroom. At her funeral, Tobe, Miss Emily’s servant, lets the town women in and then leaves by the backdoor forever. After the funeral, the townspeople go upstairs to break into the room that they know has been closed for years. Inside they find the corpse of Homer Barron on the bed. On the dust of the pillow next to Homer they find an indentation of a head, and there in the indentation a long gray hair.