A Rose for Emily Parts I-III Summary

     This William Faulkner story focuses on the character of Emily Grierson and her life in the town of Jefferson. It is written in third person point of view, almost objective insomuch that the reader never knows what is going on in Miss Emily's mind. However, occasionally it will use words, such as we and our, which pull it into a first person plural point of view, making the reader a part of the story. This technique pulls the reader into the town as a member and fellow observer of Miss Emily and her behavior. This story also does not follow chronological order, which makes it challenging to understand the order of the events in Miss Emily's life; however, this disorder is purposely used to set up the surprise ending.

     Part one begins by discussing Miss Emily's death and how no one except her servant had seen her for the last ten years of her life. Emily lived in the house that she had inherited from her father when he died. For a long time, Emily was never charged any property taxes, which the mayor, Colonel Sartoris claimed was due to money her father had lent to the town. However, when that mayor died, the next generation realized the lie and sent Miss Emily a tax notice. When she didn't pay it, they went to her house and found that it smelled dusty and dank. Her heavy body entered the room leaning on a cane. She told them that Colonel Sartoris explained to her that she didn't owe any taxes then asked them to leave. They tried to tell her that Colonel Sartoris had been dead for ten years, but she wouldn't listen to them.

     Part two opens by saying that she was able to get rid of these tax authorities just as she had gotten rid of the men thirty years before who complained about the smell. It was two years after her father had died that the neighbors began to complain about the odor coming from her house. Despite the complaints, the Judge felt uncomfortable accusing a woman of smelling bad, so one night a group of men snuck onto her property and poured lime all around her house, in the cellar, and all the outbuildings. A week or so later, the smell went away. People in town felt sorry for her. Insanity ran in her family, and when her father died, she was left alone and poor. The day after he died, neighbors came calling to the front door, and Emily denied that he was dead. She continued to do that for three days until finally they were able to get past her, grab the body, and bury it quickly. The town still denied that she was crazy; they felt she was just overcome with grief.

     Part three begins by saying Emily was sick for a long time after that, but when she recovered, she seemed a new woman. A man named Homer Barron had come to town as a foreman for the work being done on the town sidewalks. He and Miss Emily began to go out together on Sunday afternoons. The townspeople looked down on her for choosing to date a day laborer and wished that some relatives would come to help look after her. She was over age thirty by this time, and eventually two cousins did come to stay with her. During that time she saw the druggist about buying some poison. Legally, he needed to record a reason for her purchase, but she refused to give him one. She just insisted that she wanted the strongest poison he sold, which he said was arsenic. Finally, he just recorded the reason as "for rats" and let her have it.

Related Links:

A Rose for Emily Parts I-III Quiz
A Rose for Emily Parts IV-V Summary
A Rose for Emily Summary
A Rose for Emily Quotes
A Rose for Emily Important Characters
Literature Summaries

To link to this A Rose for Emily Parts I-III Summary page, copy the following code to your site: