Foremost among these-why would Homer take up with Emily if he were not interested in her romantically?Did Emily provide a convenient cover for his unspeakable predilections, or was she a confidante, a fellow "queer" to whom Homer was drawn instinctively?
Foremost among these-why would Homer take up with Emily if he were not interested in her romantically?
Given their distinct, apparently incompatible personalities, as well as the other impediments-social, cultural and practical-keeping them apart, it seems reasonable to suppose that their relationship may be founded upon an attraction or commonality not readily discernible.
Although the narrator supposes a sexual liaison between Homer and Emily-"'What else could . .'" (125)-his judgment, and those of the townspeople whose gossip he merely reports, has already proven to be unreliable; the revelation at the conclusion of the story, perhaps more surprising to the narrator than to meticulous readers, challenges us to reevaluate and question everything the narrator has told us to that point.
Furthermore, the presumptive language of the narrator (e.g., "what else could") underscores his own unquestioning inferences, while at the same time teasing skeptical readers to consider, indeed, what else could have been going on.
We need to be more inquisitive, more penetrating, than our workaday narrator.
What sort of theoretical rubric must we adopt if we're to maintain this idea with any credibility?
To begin with, our hypothesis would lead us to pose a new set of intriguing, if unanswerable questions.Thus, as our brighter students might reasonably argue, if Emily Grierson so adamantly defies appearances, and convention, why not Homer Barron, her immortally beloved?Thematically, would it not be fitting if Homer, too, were not what he pretends or is supposed to be?Does Emily kill Homer because she discovers the truth and feels betrayed, or to save her friend from a "barren" life marred by episodes of degenerate abandon?Is she, in other words, like the old women in Arsenic and Old Lace, kindly poisoning hopelessly lonely men to put them out of their misery?Positing that Homer Barron is gay not only raises a new set of questions but transforms "A Rose for Emily," or at least our perspective of it, in important ways.Most importantly, perhaps, it requires that we devote more attention to Homer-if only to account for his enigmatic, transgressive presence-and relatively less to Emily.As the ghastly conclusion of the story makes clear, however, our narrator and the townspeople he represents had only and always seen Emily from the outside-as the fact that they penetrate the inside of her house only after her death emphasizes.There are depths to Emily Grierson that the superficial gaze of the narrator could not reach.These are all legitimate, even inevitable questions, but, as most teachers of the story no doubt point out, Faulkner's choice of narrator precludes our ever providing unequivocal answers.The first-person narrator, who represents and reports the consensus view of the townspeople, assumes that Emily is what she appears to be: a fusty, antiquated Southern Belle.