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


During the summer after Mr. Grierson's death, Homer Barron, a happy-go-lucky type who "was not a marrying man," and his construction crew begin to pave the town's sidewalks. Soon the townspeople begin to see Miss Emily and Homer often riding together in a buggy. At first, they acknowledge her right to date him, but they also believe that she would never consider him seriously — after all, he is "a Northerner, a day laborer," and she is a Grierson. Then the townspeople relegate her to adultery, condemning her as "fallen," and we recall the first sentence of the story, when the men of the town go to Miss Emily's funeral to pay their last respects to "a fallen monument."

A year later, Miss Emily, now over 30, enters the town's drugstore and announces, "I want some poison." When the druggist is reluctant to sell her any without a reason, she uses her aristocratic bearing to intimidate him: "Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye to eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up." At this point, we have no idea why she wants the poison, although it will become clear later that she uses the arsenic to kill Homer Barron.