Summary and Analysis: "A Rose for Emily" Section II


We return to the past, two years after Miss Emily's father's death. There have been complaints about an awful stench emanating from Miss Emily's house. The older generation, which feels that it is improper to tell a lady that she stinks, arranges for a group of men to spread lime on her lawn and inside the cellar door of her house. All the while, she sits at a window, motionless.

Of primary importance in this section is Miss Emily's relationship to her father and her reaction to his death. The town views the father and daughter as a "tableau," in which a sitting Mr. Grierson grasps a horsewhip and affects an oblivious attitude toward his daughter, who, dressed completely in white, stands behind him. This image reinforces the physical relationship and the emotional distance we feel between the two, and it recalls the crayon picture standing before the fireplace. Also, the horsewhip that Mr. Grierson clutches suggests a bridled violence in this most gothic of tales, a violence that will reveal itself by the end of the story.

When her father dies, Miss Emily cannot face the reality of his death and her loneliness. Because she has no one to turn to — "We remembered all the young men her father had driven away . . ." — for three days she insists that her father is not dead. Her clinging to him after his death prepares us for her clinging to Homer Barron after she poisons him, and we feel that her father ultimately has some responsibility for his daughter's killing her lover.