For the second year in a row (last year on my private Facebook page), I'm going to celebrate (National? It doesn't seem to be) Short Story Month, as probably proclaimed by a lowly short story writer like myself. Every few days, I'll briefly discuss a memorable short story here and on my Facebook author page. Today, because I found a bunch of Faulkner books at Half Price Books, it's "A Rose for Emily." I assume many of you have read it, so will not summarize and explain. Read it, if you haven't--or, hell, there's Cliff's Notes or whatever.
The narrator makes this story work. It's technically a first-person plural narrator ("we"), but it's an outside observer narrator, which I refer to as a gossip or voyeur in my classes: there's one narrator speaking for a whole town . . . and in this case, that person observes from a distance Emily and Homer's lives. The narrator is full of speculation and is therefore able to build sympathy for Emily during the course of the story, in five parts. She's the one we're concerned for. And that makes Faulkner's ending that much more powerful when we intuit the murder, necrophilia, and receive all that good stuff like the "profound and fleshless grin," the indentation on the pillow, and the "strand of iron-gray hair." This is a horrific story, a sad one, told by a master who recognized the importance of point of view when storytelling.