William Faulkner was born into a wealthy family in 1897, and lived almost his entire life
in Mississippi. His hometown Oxford, was what influenced him to write short stories based on
imaginary Mississippi towns. Some of the works that are based on his imaginary towns are The
Sound and the Fury, As I lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!. William Faulkner
has won the Nobel Prize for literature. This shows that although his works take place in one
fictional setting, His topics are extensive. One topic that he chose to write about is insanity. He
shows how people shut themselves out from society and become insane. He indicates this in the
short story “A Rose for Emily”. Emily Grierson’s bizarre behavior, isolation from society, and
obsession with corpses all suggest she was not a sane person.
Emily came from a well respected family in her town. The people of Jefferson knew this
and looked up to her, but her behavior led them to question her sanity. Several of her neighbors
complained when there was a horrid stench coming from her house. At first, it was thought to be
a dead animal carcass of some sort, so a team of volunteers was sent to the house. They spread
lime and neutralized the unbearable odor. It was later discovered that the smell was Homer
Barron’s dead body rotting away. This shows that she is insane because she sits in the same
room and right beside the bed of where the rotten corpse is. The fact that her neighbors can
detect a foul smell from their own homes, yet she can sit right next to him and bear the smell,
shows she has lost her mind. Another incident that put Emily’s sanity to question was when her
father passed away in the family home. She had denied that he died and kept the corpse in the
house for three days before the ministers and doctors persuaded her to properly dispose of the
body. After this people started to wonder about her but did not totally dismiss her as crazy since
her father was all she had. After all the men her father had supposedly driven away, she had to
cling to the only family she had.
As time went on, Emily grew more and more isolated from society. After her father died,
she was rarely seen except for a few instances when she was spotted peering out of the
downstairs window. She did not even leave to go shopping. She had her servant go out to
retrieve her necessities. She became alienated from everyone. There was, although, a period of
six or seven years where she gave lessons in china-painting. During this time of isolation, she
became overweight and her hair turned a vigorous iron-gray. When the town received free postal
delivery, Emily was the only one to refuse installation of metal numbers above her door and a
mailbox to be attached to it. She did not care to receive mail from anyone. She preferred to stay
completely alienated from the world. She had also lost touch with time. She still thought that
Colonel Satoris was alive. When the men came to discuss with her about not paying the taxes,
she refused and advised them to go speak with the Colonel himself.
After Emily passed away, the entire town attended her funeral which was held in the
house that no one had seen the inside of for many years. The men attended out of a polite
respect, the women out of mere inquisitiveness to see what was inside the house. What was later
discovered in the upstairs bedroom of the house was bone chilling. The decaying corpse of a
man was found laying on the bed covered by a layer of dust. Even more outrageous, was the
indentation of a head, and an iron-gray strand of hair found on the pillow beside the
decomposing corpse. This evidence suggested that Emily had been sleeping with a man she
apparently poisoned to death, for more than forty years.
Emily Grierson displayed many character traits that suggested she was not a mentally
sound person. It seemed to Emily, that whenever she was given a chance to love someone, they
were taken away from her. She did not want this to happen with Homer, so she killed him. She
knew it was wrong to take a lover, so she became isolated from the public. This shows that
withdrawal from the public is what causes withdrawal of