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


We return to the present and Miss Emily's funeral. Her black servant meets the mourners, who arrive at the house, then he walks out the back door and disappears forever, apparently fully aware that Homer's decayed body is upstairs.

Even in death, Miss Emily cannot escape her father: "They held the funeral on the second day . . . with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier . . ." When the townspeople break into a locked room upstairs, they find carefully folded wedding clothes and Homer's remains. Only after their initial shock at seeing his skeletal corpse do they notice an indentation on the pillow next to him, with a long strand of iron-gray hair lying where a head once rested.

Because Faulkner presents his story in random fragments, it is not until the final sentence that the entire picture of Miss Emily is complete. We realize that, having been denied male companionship by her father, she is desperate for human love, so desperate that she commits murder and then uses her aristocratic position to cover up that murder. But by killing Homer, she sentences herself to total isolation. With no possibility of contact with the living, she turns to the dead.