"A Rose for Emily" Quotes

Excerpts from William Faulkner's Controversial Short Story

William Faulkner Receiving the Nobel Prize
Author William Faulkner receives the 1949 Nobel Prize for literature from King Gustaf Adolf VI of Sweden. Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

"A Rose for Emily" is a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner. It's a popular (and controversial) work, and it's also often discussed in literature classrooms. Here some key quotes from the story.

Quotes from "A Rose for Emily"

"Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor—he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron—remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity."
"They rose when she entered—a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand."
"We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn't have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized."
"We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will."
"She carried her head high enough—even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness."
"I want the best you have. I don't care what kind." (Emily)
"When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turning gray. During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning. Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man."
"Thus she passed from generation to generation—dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse."
"Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair."
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Lombardi, Esther. ""A Rose for Emily" Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/a-rose-for-emily-quotes-741270. Lombardi, Esther. (2020, August 27). "A Rose for Emily" Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/a-rose-for-emily-quotes-741270 Lombardi, Esther. ""A Rose for Emily" Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/a-rose-for-emily-quotes-741270 (accessed March 29, 2023).