Unnamed Narrator

Display Name: 
Unnamed Narrator
Sort Name: 
Unnamed Narrator
Race: 
White
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Middle Class
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Alive
Real?: 
No
Biography: 

"A Rose for Emily" is a first-person narrative, but the identity of its narrator is very hard to establish. It seems very safe to say that his race is "White" - note, for example, how consistently he refers to Tobe as "the Negro" (120, 121 etc.). Our icon also represents the narrator as male; at times the differing actions and motives of "the men" and "the women" are narrated with equal detachment (119, etc.), but a phrase like "only a woman could have believed" mayor Sartoris' fiction about the taxes makes it seem more likely that narrator is a man. The narrator's age is equally elusive, given the equally detached way "he" talks about "Colonel Sartoris' generation" and "the next generation" (120, etc.). He seems to feel a slight resentment at the Grierson's upper-class status, which may imply that "he" is middle class, but that is by no means clear. He is explicitly present when the locked door is broken in at the end ("for a long while we just stood there," 130), but inexplicably, or at least in a way that is never explained, "he" also seems implicitly to be present at every other scene he describes, from the midnight visit to de-odorize Emily's house to the funeral for her. Given the way the narrator refers to himself with the first-person plural - "we," "our" - the voice of the story could be identified as a collective one, the way "the town" regards and discusses Emily over many different decades. In other texts, Faulkner often has a third-person narrator quote or paraphrase what "the town" or "the people" say or think about the story's events. But if that is his idea here, then it is important to note that the race of this narrator is unambiguously white, that "Negroes" are consistently depicted as outside the communal "we" that the narrative constructs, that his references to something like "our whole town" (119) implicitly refer only to 'the white people of Jefferson.'

Individual or Group: 
Individual
Character changes class in this text: 

digyok:node/character/1868