April 30, 1930
Revised for These 13, same version in Collected Stories
This story is about a woman, who is called Miss Emily. She belongs to the nobility. Her family used to be very rich, but there were some changes. Emily doesn’t have much money anymore.
Emily is a strange woman. She doesn’t go out much and hardly anyone sees her. She was a stranger to the world. And many people could not understand her.
Emily lived with her father in big house in a little village. She wanted to have boyfriends, but her father rejected all of them. Her father had forbidden her to see men.. Emily was a very lonely girl, she only had her father. When her father died, she could not let go of him. She was afraid to be left alone. She acted a bit strange in her morning period. She showed no grief and claimed that her father was still alive. Emily was in denial. The people in the village could understand her reaction, because she was on her own from now on.
After her father’s death, she could finally have men in her life. She got involved with Homer Barron. He was a big, black Yankee. The people in the village thought they would get married. Emily had already bought a suit, a night-shirt and a man’s toilet set in silver with his inscription, which could prove they were getting married.
Around that time Emily went to a druggist and ordered some poison. She bought arsenic. The druggist wanted to know where she would use it for, but she didn’t say. The druggist wrote on the prescription, that it was for rats. The people in the village thought that she would commit suicide and that it would be for the best, too.
After a while Homer disappeared. And a bit later there developed a nasty smell around Emily’s house. The neighbours didn’t have the courage to tell Emily that they were bothered by the smell. So they sneaked to her house at night and they threw lime in her garden. The smell went away.
Emily also gave China-painting lessons to children. She was about forty then. She could not do it longer than six or seven years, because the new generation did not send their children to her. After her painting lessons she was hardly seen again. The people only saw her through the window sometimes, when they were throwing lime in her yard. Many years passed and nobody had been able to visit Emily in that time. She didn’t wanted to see anyone and she did not leave her house. Emily became very fat and old. Her hear became grey. When she was seventy-four, she died. Many people from the village came to her house out of curiosity. They looked around in her house and they found a room upstairs that was difficult to open. They opened it when she was buried. They saw the things Emily bought for Homer in that room. But they also saw Homer lying in a bed. Emily had poisoned him with the arsenic.
Emily killed him, because she was afraid to be abandoned by Homer. After her father’s death she could finally date a man. And she would not let that man go. She wanted to be with Homer forever, but Homer didn’t. He was attracted to men and was not the marrying type. The only way to be with him forever was to murder him. And so she did.
The people from the village finally understood where that rotten smell was coming from. It came from Homer’s corps. The people took a closer look and they saw an indentation of a head on the pillow next to Homer, with a grey hair on it. This would mean that Emily slept next to Homer’s corps.
Time and place
The story begins in 1894, when her father dies. The story ends when Emily dies. She is 74 then. I think that it ends around 1940.
The story takes place in a little town called Jefferson in the state Mississippi. It’s in the South of America. That’s why there are so many Negro slaves in the story.
The story is not written in chronological order. There are many flash-backs. The flash-backs make you understand what was going on in that village. You get the clue at the end of the story.
The "we" in the story are the people in the village. The story is told through the eyes of those people, who live in Jefferson. This means that the story is told by a third person point of view.
Emily is the main character in the story. Her skeleton was small and spare. When her father died, she was not fat. But when she became more solitary, she got on a lot of weight. Because of her small and spare skeleton she wasn’t merely plumpness. It was obesity in her case. Her eyes looked like pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough. When she got old her hair became grey.
Emily belongs to the nobility and she used to be very rich. She was a very lonely woman and because of that she became insane (Insanity runs in her family). Emily was afraid to be alone, so she wanted to keep her father’s corps in her house and she killed Homer to prevent him of leaving her.
She didn’t want to adjust to the new generation. She wouldn’t communicate with them, she did not want a mailbox, she didn’t pay taxes and she didn’t want a house number. The new generation thought she was a strange woman, but also very mysterious. They watched every step she made.
Her father was also afraid to be left alone. Because of this he forbade Emily to see men. He was afraid that she would get married and that he would be left alone in that big house. This was not good for Emily. She also got afraid to be abandoned and would do anything to keep the men, who she loved, with her.
The theme is loneliness, because she was alienated from the world (She lives in solitude) and especially the new generation. She had no contact with them. Emily did crazy things out of loneliness. She killed Homer for instance.
n Having sex with the dead ( necrofiliac )
n Emily’s loneliness
n Her relationship with her father ( he forbade her to see men)
n The insanity in her family
The story was published in 1930. The story also takes place around that time. In this period of time there was slavery in the South. That is why the story is sometimes regarded as symbolic of the changes in the South during the representative period.
The story was a bit hard to read. William Faulkner used many difficult words. When we read the story in class I could not completely understand the story, because the teacher read to fast. When I read it again it all became clearer. I liked the story, there was a lot of tension in it and it was not so predictable as most short stories.
I think it is interesting to read about people, who live in solitude. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be alone like that. I would never choose to be alone like Emily did. I like to have friends in my life. If she just talked to the new generation in her village, she could make friends. She wouldn’t have been so alone and the people would have liked her then.
The story was told through the eyes of the inhabitants of Jefferson. I did not like that. I think it is a limited point of view, because you can’t get into the heads of any of the characters to see what they are really thinking and feeling. In a story I like to know, where everybody is thinking about. In this story I was very curious about Emily’s thoughts. I also did not like it that those people always had some negative judgement about Emily. They didn’t even know her, they only knew what her actions were. The inhabitants didn’t blame themselves for what happened, but I think they could have been nicer to Emily. They never tried to get to know her. They only went to see her when they needed something from her like taxes, or when they were bothered by the smell. The people who did wanted to get in touch with Emily, only did it because of curiosity. They wanted to know what the crazy woman was doing.
The things Emily did were horrifying. She killed her love, because he would probably abandon her. That’s really sick. It’s normal to lose some people you love. But there will be other people who will care about you. And what’s the use of having a dead partner? Unless you are a negrofiliac of course. I think that’s very filthy and gruesome. I can’t imagine that a person could have sex with a dead body. Only just the thought of it makes me sick.
The flash-backs made the story a little complicated, but also made the story more interesting. Bit by bit you got more information, because of the flash-backs and at the end they all made sense. I like stories, which unfold at the end.
Faulkner, William (1897-1962), one of the greatest American novelists, known for his epic portrayal, in some 20 novels, of the tragic conflict between the old and the new South.
Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, September 25, 1897, and was raised in nearby Oxford as the oldest of four sons of an old-line southern family. He dropped out of high school, which he detested, to work in his grandfather's bank in 1915. In World War I he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, but never saw action. Back home in Oxford, he was admitted to the University of Mississippi as a veteran, but soon left to write, supporting himself with odd jobs.
Faulkner's first book, The Marble Faun, a collection of rather derivative poems, was privately printed in 1924. The next year he moved to New Orleans, worked as a journalist, and met the American short story writer Sherwood Anderson, who helped him find a publisher for his first novel, Soldiers' Pay (1926), and also convinced him to write about the people and places he knew best. This novel told the story of a young soldier’s return home from World War I, disabled physically and psychologically, and how his subsequent illness and death affects his family and friends. After a brief tour of Europe, he went home and began the series of baroque, brooding novels set in his mythical Yoknapatawpha County (based on Lafayette County, Mississippi), peopling it with his own ancestors, Native Americans, blacks, shadowy backwood hermits, and loutish poor whites. In the first of these novels, Sartoris (1929), he patterned Colonel Sartoris after his own great-grandfather, William Cuthbert Faulkner, a soldier, politician, railway builder, and author. (Faulkner restored the "u" that had been removed from the family name.)
The year 1929 was crucial to Faulkner. Sartoris was followed by The Sound and the Fury, establishing him as a mature master of fiction; he married his childhood sweetheart, Estelle Oldham; and he chose to make his home and take his literary stand in the small town of Oxford. Although his books got favourable reviews, only one sold well—Sanctuary (1931). Despite its sensationalism and brutality—it dealt with a horrific rape—its underlying concerns were with corruption and ideal-shattering disillusionment. The book's success led to lucrative work as a Hollywood scriptwriter, which, for a short time, freed Faulkner to write his novels as his own powerful imagination dictated.
Faulkner demanded much of his readers. To create a mood, he might let one of his complex, convoluted sentences run on for more than a page. He juggled time, spliced narratives, experimented with multiple narrators, and interrupted simple stories with rambling, stream of consciousness soliloquies. Consequently, his readership dwindled. In 1946 the critic Malcolm Cowley, concerned that Faulkner was insufficiently known and appreciated, put together The Portable Faulkner, arranging extracts from Faulkner's novels into a chronological sequence that gave the entire Yoknapatawpha saga a new clarity, thus making his genius available to a new generation of readers.
Faulkner's works, long out of print, began to be reissued. No longer was he regarded as a regional curiosity, but as a literary giant whose finest writing held meaning far beyond the agonies and conflicts of his own troubled South. His accomplishment was internationally recognised in 1949, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He continued to write—both novels and short stories—until his death on July 6, 1962, in Oxford. Among his major works are As I lay dying (1930), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936), The unvanquished (1938), The Hamlet (1940), Go Down, Moses (1942), Intruder in the Dust (1948), A Fable (1954), which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1955, The Town (1957), The Mansion (1959), and The Reivers (1962), also awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
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