Comparison and Contrast of a Story and a Film of a Rose for Emily

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A rose for Emily authored by William Faulkner is a short story which reveals a dark tale of Emily, the protagonist of the story. The story is placed in the 1930s in the South. In the short story, Emily's father was not able to find a suitable man to marry his daughter, and thus Emily was forced to stay single into her thirties.

Emily's Relationship with Homer Barron

After the death of her father, Emily meets Homer Barron, and even as he wanted to leave her, Emily was not going to let him away. In 1983, Faulkner's story got adapted into a film by Lyndon Chubbuck. The film emphasized on the southern gothic features, which added traditional elements to the original story. A rose for Emily gets perceived as a tale that grounded on unavoidable fate. The two are tragedy stories and showcases how Emily struggles with the loss of her father and the rejection of Homer which ignites an intense emotional pain.


The main characters of the story and the film are the same, Emily Grierson and Homer. In the film, Emily's father keeps her away from seeing suitors, and he controlled her social life. Emily is held in isolation until her father dies. Emily then struggles with the loss, and this drives her to kill Homer Barron. Emily keeps Homer's body in the house even after killing him. She thinks that through killing Homer, he will never leave her.

Both the story and the film also deal with the problem of Emily paying taxes. In the story, Colonel Sartoris claims that Emily will not pay taxes after her father's death. It is because Emily's father had given the town vast amounts of money. According to the colonel, this act was a way of repaying the debt. According to Faulker (1930), "Colonel Sartoris invented this tale. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris's generation could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it" From the story, there were no many regulations. Also, women from the generation were seen to be inferior. When another generation ruled by Jefferson came into existence, Emily was sent a couple of tax notices. The Aldermen board went to Emily for discussion her repayment of the taxes. She stubbornly responded that "I have no taxes in Jefferson. The colonel explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city record and satisfy yourself" (Faulkner, 1930).

Notably, the response signals the changing times in the women era. In the movie adaptation, huge scenes created chronicled on the tax issues which reveal the conflict in the film. Her non-compliance with the law is a symbol of stubbornness.

In the both, the theme of male superiority is highly stressed. Women were seen to be inferior, and the society stereotypes work towards undermining the female gender. The death of her father was a sign of freedom and the fulfilment of meeting the man of her dreams. During the generation, it was not easy to find women in her thirties still single. Women were viewed to be of no worth and thus they were not able to make their own decisions.

Again, another similarity is evident in the tragedy of the storyline. The theme of tragedy coins both of them. Emily develops romantic interests to Homer but ends up killing him as a way of keeping him close to her. He was a foreman for a road construction project. Emily undergoes a great tragedy, and this is why she deserves a rose. Rose also both in the story and the film is used to representing secrecy and a symbol of silence on the death of Homer.

Another similarity is portrayed forms the similar themes that are evident from the story and the film. The two also explore the theme of death, isolation, and resistance to change. The film vividly portrays decaying societal norms. The society oppresses Emily Grierson. The traditions of the south which were frequently discriminatory against women are seen in both the film and the story. Emily's father and Homer die bringing out the theme of death. Emily remains to be in denial even after the death of her father. In the both, the power of death is a consistent theme. In the movie, the father dies and also in the story of Homer, and Emily's father also died. Emily also keeps the corpses of her father, and this brings out horror.

Emily poisons Homer and keeps him locked in the house. She lives in tragedy and refuses to accept that there is a way of living. The fact that Emily does not give away his father for burial is a sign of denial in the essence of change resistance. When a new administration rules the town, Emily decides not to pay taxes. Faulkner writes "She told them that her father was not dead" (Faulkner, 1930). The death of the father vitally affects her, and this makes her failure to adapt to change. The town people say that the death made her "Sick for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl" (Faulkner, 1930). As a result of it, Emily isn't resilient to endure the pain which makes her suffer for a long duration.


One of the significant differences noticed between the film and the story is the treatment of time. William Faulkner's novel is not a historical tale, and thus the events of the storyline are not ordered systematically in time. On the other hand, the Lyndon Chubbuck's movie is chronological and follows a straightforward approach (Chubbuck, 1983). The film is narrated chronologically while the Faulkner's story keeps on moving forward and backwards in time. Therefore, the film is easy to understand and less demanding to the audience.

However, Faulkner's story is hard to understand due to the ever-changing times. The difference in the approach has been essential in giving the general tone of the story and the movie. It also affects the reasoning and understanding that the audience develops. From the story, Faulkner encourages the audience to reason in the different years. The difference can also be deduced from the year the two were produced. Faulkner's story was published in 1930, and it is set in the city of Jefferson in the Yoknapatawpha County. On the other hand, Chubbuck's the film was produced in 1983, and it is an adaptation of Faulkner's story.

The movie emphasises an environment of suspense and horror. On the other hand, the story denoted to be a psychologically complex portrait of the community and portrays the way the society has transformed due to changes in the generations. Thus, one of the main differences between the two is evident from the simplifying the chronology of the film and the complexity of the story. The aspect makes the movie to be more focused compared to the short story.

The death brings horror especially when Emily opts to keep the body of the Homer in the house so that he does not leave her. Faulkner also portrays Emily as a "skeleton" that is both "small and spares" (Faulkner, 1930). It brings out a horrific theme, and it emanates from death. The film is gothic with dreadfulness. Homer and Emily fall in love the later decides to break it. Due to this Emily poisons her and decides to hide the body in the house.

In the story, the board of Aldermen came to visit Emily to discuss with her over the failure of tax payments. She became adamant saying that she owes nobody taxes. In the film, there is no such conflict even the scene where the board visited Emily does not exist.

The film also left out the unacceptable social act of sleeping with men before marriage which was evident in the short story reason is that it happened after her wedding. In the story by Faulkner gossips about the act of sex before marriage arose in the town appeared because they still held social values in the community.


The Chubbuck's film and Faulkner's story were produced at two different times which seems to be the most significant disparity. Due to the adaptation, they both have got many similarities including similar characterisation and themes. However, despite the film being the version of the short story, the two also evidence some differences. They were written at a different time and differ in the approach because the story does not follow a chronological path but the film takes a straightforward format.

The film was a good version although it omitted the social influence of the southern part that held traditions of the society. In a nutshell, the film is a clear remake of the short story and it cites all the conflicts storyline of the novel.


Chubbuck Lyndon. (1983). A Rose for Emily full movie. Retrieved from

Faulkner William. (1930). A Rose for Emily. Library of America.

August 21, 2023


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