Sample SRE

“A Rose for Emily”

by William Faulkner

Modified from an SRE™ created by Nikki Klatt
University of Minnesota

Table of Contents

Introduction
Objectives
Higher Order Thinking Skills Emphasized
Chronological List of Activities
Detailed Description of Activities
Student Materials
Sources of the Reading Selection, Additional Readings,
and Other Material

Introduction

Yes sir. You can be more careless; you can put more trash in [a novel] and be excused for it. In a short story that's next to the poem, almost every word has got to be almost exactly right. In the novel you can be careless, but in a short story you can't. I mean by that the good short stories like Chekhov wrote. That's why I rate that second--it's because it demands a nearer absolute exactitude. You have less room to be slovenly and careless. There's less room in it for trash.

- William Faulkner


William Faulkner is often remembered for his classic novels such as Absalom, Absalom!, Go, Down Moses, and The Sound and the Fury and for receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. But his literary legacy, which began in New Orleans when he published literary sketches for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, also includes several short stories in which he demonstrates his unparalleled attention for detail. "A Rose for Emily" is a story often read in high school, as it is a good introduction to the importance of close reading. The rich text provides innumerable details, imagery, symbolism, and a complex structure. Through reading and discussing the story, students also begin to learn the importance of point of view, time, and place in a narrative text. Members of Emily's community of Jefferson, Mississippi narrate the story so the town is more than simply a setting; it is a character with a voice and values. The reader ultimately knows more about the town and its attitudes than she knows about Emily Grierson herself. Therefore, because the reader sees Miss Emily as the town sees her, he or she is often surprised, intrigued, and perplexed by the story's outcome. The story has an interlaced and non-chronological plot, but it is certainly a plot that will intrigue many high school students. The story can be easily related to students' own social worlds (especially the theme of ostracizing a member of one's own community), and it includes a number of mysterious elements that maintain the reader's curiosity. Moreover, the ending of the story leaves a good deal of room for discussion and debate.

Faulkner's statement prefacing this introduction clearly shows the great importance he attributed to finely crafting short stories and suggests the challenge of writing short stories due to there being much less room for error and non-essentials than there is in a novel. "A Rose for Emily" exemplifies this philosophy. Faulkner's attention to detail, carefully structured complex plot, imagery, symbolism, and historical context make the story pleasurable to read and an appropriate vehicle for close study and critical thinking.


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Objectives

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Higher Order Thinking Skills Emphasized

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Chronological List of Activities

Day 1
 
Pre-Reading Activities

(1) Building Background Knowledge (about the author), 10 minutes
(2) Relating the Reading to Students' Lives, 20 minutes
(3) Building Background Knowledge (relevant to the story), 20 minutes

Day 2
 
Pre-Reading Activities

(1) Pre-teaching Concepts, 30 minutes
(2) Providing Text-Specific Knowledge, 10 minutes
(3) Direction Setting, 10 minutes

Day 3
 
During-Reading Activities

(1) Reading to Students,10 minutes
(2) Guided Reading, 20 minutes
(3) Silent Reading, 20 minutes

Day 4
 
Post-Reading Activities

(1) Questioning, 25 minutes
(2) Discussion, 25 minutes

Day 5
 
Post-Reading Activities

(1) Discussion, 20 minutes
(2) Drama, 30 minutes

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Detailed Description of Activities

Day 1
 
Pre-Reading Activities

1. Building Background Knowledge (about the author), 10 minutes

2. Relating the Reading to Students' Lives, 20 minutes

3. Building Background Knowledge (relevant to the story), 20 minutes

Day 2
 
Pre-Reading Activities

1. Pre-teaching Concepts, 30 minutes

2. Providing Text-Specific Knowledge, 10 minutes

3. Direction Setting, 10 minutes

Day 3
 
During-Reading Activities

1. Reading to Students,10 minutes

2. Guided Reading, 20 minutes

3. Silent Reading, 20 minutes

Day 4
 
Post-Reading Activities

1. Questioning, 25 minutes

2. Discussion, 25 minutes

Day 5
 
Post-Reading Activities

1. Discussion, 30-50 minutes

2. Drama (a possible activity), 30 minutes

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Student Materials

Student materials for "A Rose for Emily" include a preview, a story map, and a discussion web:

Preview for "A Rose for Emily"

In the late 1800s after the North won the Civil War, most of the United States experienced progress, industrial growth, and material prosperity. But the South, upon losing the war, felt greatly disadvantaged in a nation that was otherwise strong and confident. The Southern states were slow to change and tried to maintain their traditional values as much as possible. Sometimes certain events change people’s attitudes and perceptions of the world, while others try to hold on to their old inclinations. Have you ever experienced a time in your life when change was extremely difficult? If so, how did you respond to those changes? Did you accept them or did you try to cling to the past?


In William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily,” the main character Emily lives in the southern town of Jefferson, Mississippi. The story, narrated by an anonymous member of the community, begins at Emily’s funeral. Then the story flashes back to many years prior to Emily’s death, a time when she lived with her father and was in love with a Northern man. Throughout the story, the townspeople talk about Emily and her unusual nature. She locks herself in her house, which remains the same in appearance her entire life. She rarely takes any trips into town. When she finally does make an arrival in town, she makes a strange purchase at the local pharmacy. When she eventually dies, the townspeople enter her house for the first time in ten years only to discover something horrific. Read the story to explore her very peculiar actions and learn more about Miss Emily’s unwillingness to change with modern times.
 

Story Map for "A Rose for Emily"

1. Why did the people of the town attend Miss Emily’s funeral even though no one had seen her for the last ten years?

2. What was the reason for the special meeting of the Board of Alderman? Why did some members of the community go to Miss Emily’s house? What did they find?

3. Why didn’t Miss Emily’s father allow her to marry? What happens to her father in this section?

4. In this part, the story now flashes back to thirty years prior to Miss Emily’s death. What draws four men to visit her house at that time?

5. With whom is Miss Emily in love? Where is he from? Why is this critical to the story?

6. Why did the town feel sorry for Miss Emily? What did they think happened to her relationship?

7. Miss Emily went to the pharmacist to buy some poison. What did the town think she was going to do with it?

8. What eventually happens to Miss Emily? Be very specific in your answer.

9. After her funeral, some men visited Miss Emily’s house for the third and last time. What did they find in her upstairs bedroom?

Extension Questions

1. The story begins with Miss Emily’s funeral. Then in Part II, the story flashes back to thirty years before Miss Emily’s death. In Part III the story flashes back even earlier, to when Emily was first in love. Finally, the story ends at the time of her death in Part V. Why do you think Faulkner composes the plot out of chronological order?

2. Critics have said that the narrator of the story is the town? If this is so, why is it significant?

3. Earlier this week, we discussed the concepts of imagery and symbolism. Provide one example of imagery and one of symbolism from the story and explain how they contribute to the story.

4. Critics have said that by locking herself in her house over the years, Miss Emily was trying to hold on to her traditional southern values, refusing to change with the times. Construct a logical argument in support of this interpretation, using as many specifics from the story as possible. Note, however, that this theme is not made explicit in the story and that you will need to make inferences as part of your argument.

Discussion Web for "A Rose for Emily"
 
Yes   No
     
     
  Was Miss Emily Crazy?  
     
     
     

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Sources of the Reading Selection, Additional Readings,
and Other Material

Source of the Reading Selection

Lauter, P. (Ed.). (1994). Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington, Massachusetts: DC Heath and Company.

McDonald, E. (Ed.). (1995). Collected Stories of William Faulkner. New York: Random House.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR/wf_rose.html The complete text of the story.

Criticism / Book Reviews

Polk, N., & Kirszner, L. G. (Eds.). (2000). A Rose for Emily: William Faulkner. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College. This text, from the Harcourt Brace casebook series in literature, includes both the complete short story and a number of critical articles on it.

Multimedia

Chubbuck, L. (Producer), & Dyal, H. K. (Screenwriter). (1983) A rose for Emily [Film]. (Available from Chubbuck Cinema Company)

Internet Sites

http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/faulkner/faulkner.html William Faulkner on the Web. This site bills itself as the ultimate guide to William Faulkner, and that's just what it is. It is a well organized, complete, and user friendly site.

http://cai.ucdavis.edu/enl3/emily.html Includes articles about Faulkner, articles about "A Rose for Emily," teaching suggestions, and some information on Southern fiction.

References

Alvermann, D. (1991). The discussion web: A graphic aid for learning across the curriculum. The Reading Teacher, 45, 92-99.

Beck, I. L., & McKeown, M. G. (1981). Developing questions that promote comprehension: The story map. Language Arts, 58, 913-918.

Graves, M. F., Prenn, M. C., & Cooke, C. L. (1985). The coming attraction: Previewing short stories to increase comprehension. Journal of Reading, 28, 594-598.

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