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A Rose for Emily

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by

Matthew Coakley

on 5 March 2014

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Transcript of A Rose for Emily

- The overall tone of the story is tense and eerie
- Emily is intimidating to the reader when she speaks, but when the townsfolk describe her, she is seen as a lonely woman who is trapped in her own isolated, timeless bubble
- Throughout the story, the reader feels concerned for Emily, but also for Homer as he enters into his relationship with her
- Emily’s tone is very powerful and unwavering. Nothing anyone says will change her mindset
- Homer has no dialogue in the story, but descriptions reveal that he is a sociable, humorous man

A Rose For Emily
Language and Method of Argument
Intentions of the Characters
Vocabulary
EMILY AND HOMER'S RELATIONSHIP
Health of Relationship
Who is seeking control?
Ideas for More Effective Arguments
Ethos
Pathos
Logos
Discussion Questions
Presentation by M. Coakley and A. Razzi
The target audience William Faulkner intended were Southerners.
The story’s setting takes place in the South
It focuses on Emily’s refusal to accept changes to Southern traditions
In a broader sense, it can appeal to anyone who doesn’t like change or holds tradition close to their heart

Audience

The overall tone of the story is tense and eerie
Emily is intimidating to the reader when she speaks, but when the townsfolk describe her, she is seen as a lonely woman who is trapped in her own isolated, timeless bubble
Throughout the story, the reader feels concerned for Emily, but also for Homer as he enters into his relationship with her
Emily’s tone is very powerful and unwavering. Nothing anyone says will change her mindset
Homer has no dialogue in the story, but descriptions reveal that he is a sociable, humorous man

Tone

Emily speaks only when necessary
She gets her point across by keeping her speech short and straightforward
She is effective in her speech because she is stubborn in her arguments


Rhetoric or Dialogue

The main purpose of this story is to show the importance of traditions and change
Emily holds her traditions very dear to her and is completely unwilling to change even though everyone around her is
She places herself in a timeless vacuum, which is basically her understanding of what she thinks society should be
Another purpose of the story is to illustrate that nothing lasts forever
When the times change, Emily refuses to advance with the times.
She wants her old society to stay as it was forever, but that is not how society works.
She also wanted her relationship with Homer to last forever, so she took matters into her own hands and killed him

Purpose

- One purpose of this story is to show the importance of traditions and change
- Emily holds her traditions very dear to her and is completely unwilling to change even though everyone around her is
- She places herself in a timeless vacuum, which is basically her understanding of what she thinks society should be
- Another purpose of the story is to illustrate that nothing lasts forever
- When the times change, Emily refuses to advance with the times.
- She wants her old society to stay as it was forever, but that is not how society works.
- She also wanted her relationship with Homer to last forever, so she took matters into her own hands and killed him

- The target audience William Faulkner intended were Southerners.
- The story’s setting takes place in the South
- It focuses on Emily’s refusal to accept changes to Southern traditions
- In a broader sense, it can appeal to anyone who doesn’t like change or holds tradition close to their heart
- Emily seems to use as little language as possible, almost the bare minimum in order to get her points across
- Almost always wins an argument with her deceptive tactics and mind games she uses on her lover
- Homer is described as having a loud, booming voice; he is a confident man
- Yet always seems to lose arguments with Emily
- Emily Grierson wants to be in control of her relationships
- She wanted to have someone to keep her company, and to love
- Emily feels lonely because she isolates herself
- She wants a husband, and a flawless relationship
- Homer wants a casual relationship


Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town
.”

- This quote explains the town of Jefferson's relation to Miss Emily
- Miss Emily was an odd character and a social outcast, but she had always been a part of the community.
- She was like a family member to the people in the community.
- The community members felt as though it was their duty to put up with her


She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt
.”

Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up
.”

- Emily is portrayed in these scenes as a cold, stand-offish old lady
- Emily's negligence to offer her guests a seat reveals that she does not appreciate being bothered for reasons she does not deem worthy of her time
- Her lack of retorts while people were talking illustrates the epitome of her style of language
- She is intimidating because she listens without speaking unless it is necessary.

- Emily and Homer’s relationship is dysfunctional
- They are both unaware of what the other is desiring in the relationship and their reasoning behind it
- Emily is unable to comprehend Homer’s desire to keep their relationship only an affair without marriage
- In return, Homer is unable to comprehend Emily’s desire to be with him forever
- The miscommunication between the two characters is the main reason the relationship is dysfunctional

- Emily is seeking total control of the relationship
- She goes to the means of killing him and keeping his dead body so he would stay with her forever
- Emily uses little language in the process
- Instead of resolving the relationship issues by persuading Homer through language, she almost immediately resorts to killing him in fear of losing him
- In a sense, Emily has gained eternal control over Homer
- Even with him dead, she is content in being able to be with him forever in some sense
- She doesn't view the death as a loss, but as a gain; as she can now be with him forever
- Although Emily and Homer did not have any dialogue of their arguments, it can be inferred that their main argument was over marriage
- Emily wanted Homer to be with her forever, and when he showed little interest in marriage, she killed him
- A way for this argument to have been more effective would be to add more discussion concerning the situation, as there was little in the story
- If both sides argued their case, maybe they would have a better insight on what the other was thinking



Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group
.”

- This passage is one of the most revealing pieces of information in the story about Homer Barron's character
- It portrays him as a confident, sociable man with a sense of humor.


But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige … They just said, ‘Poor Emily.’


- The love affair between Emily and Homer was an extremely scandalous topic in the town of Jefferson
- Homer was a Northerner, so there was already somewhat of a contempt towards the idea of being in a relationship with him, even though he was quite friendly and people liked him personally
- This quote directly concerns the main reason why the affair was as scandalous as it was
- Emily's family was of a very noble status, whereas Homer was simply the foreman of a construction company, and there were no plans of marriage between them
- The townsfolk gossiped and wondered why she would associate herself with him


Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them
.”

- This quote reveals a lot about Emily's personality.
- Emily is unwilling to accept change in her traditions, even such a minor change as adding a mailbox to her door.
- Emily wants everything in her life to last forever, and refuses to accept society's continuous changes around her.
- She isolates herself in a timeless vacuum in her house


The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him
.”

- The use of the phrase "
now the long sleep that outlasts love...
" is very important in understanding a central theme of the story
- The theme is that nothing will last forever
-Emily wants to make everything last forever, and believes that if she traps Homer in her life by killing him, their relationship will last forever.
- Faulkner argues that death must be accepted and not denied, because it is final and it will ultimately defeat love
Key Sentences
& Phrases
Flaw in Communication
by Wiliam Faulkner
- The flaw in the way Emily communicates is that she doesn't really communicate
- Her tendency to refrain from talking may have been detrimental to her relationship
- The lack of communication between Emily and Homer led Emily to delude herself into thinking that the only way their relationship could be saved was to kill him
- Emily is also very strong-willed and
unwilling to compromise, which
would result in unresolved fights
- William Faulkner conveys pathos by making the reader empathize with Emily, even though her character is cold and bitter
- Through the descriptions and dialogue given by the townsfolk of Jefferson, they convey a sense that Emily is a poor soul
- She is isolated by herself in her timeless bubble
- This makes the reader feel bad for Emily, rather than disliking her
- Throughout the story, Faulkner uses logos when he depicts Emily's logic, which is askew in many ways
- Emily's fear that Homer would abandon her progressed to her actions of killing him
- For Emily, this was a logical progression
- She figured that if she wanted to have him forever, she would just kill him and keep his body
- Ethos is employed by the townsfolk of Jefferson, Mississippi
- Emily, a woman of high status, begins to engage in an affair with a Norther day-laborer, with no plans for marriage
- This is something that the citizens of Jefferson will worry about, as they feel like they must look after Emily
- They believe it is not right for Emily to be having the affair because it would disgrace the family name
Which side of the argument convinces you more; Emily's or Homer's?
If Emily ended up not killing Homer, do you think she would've convinced him to marry her?
Do you think it's possible Emily had plans to kill Homer all along?
Did Emily truly love Homer, or did she just love being in control?
What role do you think Emily's father plays throughout the story?
What does the strand of hair found on Emily's pillow after she dies represent?
What does the "rose" symbolize?
What do you think the author's reasoning was behind scrambling the events of the story so they're not in chronological order?
What is a lesson or moral teaching you can derive from this story?
- Emily speaks only when she feels it is necessary
- She gets her point across by keeping her speech short and straightforward
- This strategy of using minimal language is intimidating because since she is not voicing her opinion, one cannot know what she is thinking during an argument
- She is effective in her speech because she is stubborn in her arguments
-Almost baffles the person she is conversing with by not taking "no" for an answer
Rhetoric / Dialogue
Perverse
- showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences
Emily felt as though she was above society, and acted in a perverse manner because she knew she was untouchable

Acrid
- having an irritatingly strong and unpleasant taste or smell
The story contains many references to bad odors and dryness and dust. This all represents the internal decay of Emily

Macabre
- disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury
The overall tone of the story could be classified as macabre. The nature of the story is disturbing and twisted.




Virulent
- (of a disease or poison) extremely severe or harmful in its effects
Emily uses a virulent poisen to kill Homer, but Faulkner uses this word to describe Emily's early life, living with her abusive father.

Imperviousness
- impenetrability: the quality of being impenetrable
In Emily's town, she was impervious from the law because she was the town's "obligation" and she held herself above society.
Full transcript