To begin with, 'A Rose for Emily' is a story by William Faulkner which is complex in nature. It is actually a story about a black woman Miss Emily Grierson. The story opens in a huge funeral of Emily (Faulkner 1). Interestingly enough, there is no one who has been in her house for ten years except her Negro servant who is seen to and from the market with a basket. In line with this, the house she lives in is dusty and old and in addition it happens that she does not pay taxes. Her father is dead and we are reminded that when the father died she refused to admit it for three days until the citizens in the town of Jefferson forced it and buried the father.
There was a story of a bad smell out of her house after the father's death and shortly after the disappearance of Homer when Emily was seen buying Arsenic poison. Homer Barron whom she dated is seen entering her house never to be seen again and Emily stayed in the house. She only gets out of the house when teaching painting lessons. When she is dead, a room upstairs believed to have been closed for forty years is broken and there they find the corpse of Homer rotting in bed and an indentation of a head with Emily's grey hair. This signifies that she was sleeping or rather was married to her dead lover. The most interesting part of the story is that the main theme of the story is that of modernization or transition from one generation to another. In order to bring out the theme, the author utilizes the theme of reality, the literary element of the complex character of Emily along with the unresolved end of the story.
Following this point, there is the prevalence of the theme of reality whereby Emily is unable to come into terms with the changing world. In this sense, we are presented to Emily as a young woman whose father protected from her suitors looking for the one who suited her only to fail to find him. In this context, when the father is dead, Emily is unable to come out of the house and lives an isolated life. This is evident in the story where it is said of Emily as a reply to the ladies who came to console her "she told them that her father was not dead" (Faulkner 25). He depended on the father but when he is dead, reality dawns to her but she is not ready to come into terms with it. Again, she is not ready to come into terms with the fact that Homer Barron, her lover is dead, paying of taxes and teaching other than the old painting methods.. This makes her to love the corpse of Homer and spent the rest of her life with it. This is what reveals the theme of reality of change that occurred as a time for transition from old generation to a new one was taking place. This is evidenced by the statement "When the next generation with its ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some dissatisfaction" (Faulkner 5).
Another literary element used by the author to reveal the theme of reality was the use of complex character of Emily among others. The whole town is stirred by the character of Emily who is in the first place overprotected by the father. It is not even known why the father protects the daughter as he does not give clear reasons. The character of Emily cannot be understood when she refuses to admit that the father is dead. Again, Emily cannot be understood what she likes no wonder the women in the town fear her. No one who is able to understand her as she seemingly lives in her own world. All what the people of the town of Jefferson can see is the servant out and in from the market with a basket. This is backed by the statement "A few of ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received, and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man _a young man then _going in and out with a market basket (Faulkner 15).The servant too does not talk about what happens and even when Emily dies, he opens for the people and disappears through the back door. This presents the reader with a lot of complexity in terms of characters as there is no single character one can understand. Each character seems to be in his or her own world trying as much as possible not to come to terms with a certain reality.
On the other hand, there is a literary element by the author owing to the unresolved or open end of the story. Actually, the story ends in an unresolved end in the sense that, when the corpse of Homer Barron is found, the story ends. The third person plural narrator says "What was left of him rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt " (Faulkner 60).So to speak, there is no one who can explain the reality of issues in the very room which no one entered for forty days. Accordingly, the Negro servant Tobe has left never to return and therefore, the story had to end with no one to tell the realities that made the situations to be the way they were. Nobody was there to tell anything about the house and therefore, there was some reality that remained unfolded.
In summation, the author has managed to utilize the theme of reality, the literary element of the complex character of Emily along with the unresolved end of the story to bring about the development of the story. Being not able to come into terms with reality brought about by modernization, Emily developed a complex character which enabled her to live in her own world. Equally, her father, the lover and the Negro who was a sign of life in the house are bought out as complex characters and thus it is not possible to get the reality from their point of view. No one could understand her and presumably she has to live in a world of her own of which her death led to an open end or unresolved end as no one was available to explain the realities of her very life. Therefore, it is almost impossible for one who has a complex character to come into terms with reality and as such, his or her life ends up with unresolved issues along with unfolded realities.