In William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily", we are guided through the isolated life of the newly departed Ms. Emily Grierson. This story is narrated in a unique point of view; a collective first person. The purpose of using "we" is to speak for the town's citizens as the narrator to create a sense of intimacy between the reader and the story, and it allows the town to voice opinions or comments that reveal the values of the townspeople. This particular point of view also contributes to the gothic and somewhat morbid atmosphere that has made this story so popular.
The story is told by an unknown narrator who is clearly a town resident, (When Ms. Emily died our whole town went to the funeral). . Faulkner shows that the narrator is in the story itself by writing "we did not say she is crazy then" implying he/she, himself or herself were concernedlending to the authenticity of the account. In an effort to create empathy for Emily, she is described through the eyes of the townspeople who although gossip about her also refer to her as poor Emily. Poor Emily is left a poor spinster by her harsh father, deserted by her suitor, and humiliated by her homosexual lover. There are personal accounts of her fathers funeral, the suitors that were chased away, the china painting classes and steadfast refusal to pay taxes. The reader begins to feel compassion for this poor lonely woman who lives such an isolated life. It is also understood that without this particular narration, Ms. Emilys life would have been shrouded in even more secrecy. It would have been impossible to analyze or observe her life and actions anymore without her own personal narration. . Through the townspeoples actions and comments the reader becomes privy to how fickle and cruel the townspeople could be. While they dont hate Ms. Emily, she is described as being a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town. This can be seen not only in the beginning when describing the funeral, but also when describing the few attempts to visit or collect the ever-present property taxes from her. The reader begins to understand that their kindness is more out of mounting curiosity than anything else. They dont forgive rancid smells or attend her funeral out of the goodness of their hearts. They want to see the inside of the once magnificent Grierson home, they wanted to get to know her, and be privy to her relationships. When speaking of her fathers death it is said, When her father diedpeople were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper. While claiming to feel sorry for her, they rejoice in her fall from grace. Even in their physical description of her they can be unkind. She is described as a small, fat woman with a cold, dry voice and bloated body, pale body. Furthermore, their insistence on collecting property taxes that were remitted decades earlier illustrates yet another negative aspect (in their eyes) of Ms. Emily, her refusal to obey the law.