In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, Faulkner never mentions rose as a noun, only as a past tense verb throughout the work. However, its position as one of two primary words within the title, suggests that the "Rose" has significance of its own. So, what does the rose represent in the title of A Rose for Emily?
The "Rose" is conspicuous by its absence. Some commentators have said about the main character, that as a
"victim of sexual repression and stultifying gender roles, Emily is driven to insanity and murder by family and social dynamics
-John Dennis Anderson (Student Companion to William Faulkner).
This complex story is divided into five sections.
Emily is a daughter of the "Old South", living alone in a decaying mansion. She is often the topic of town gossip, when seen in public and when not. She goes out for rides with "Homer", a man who many consider below her station, and it is speculated that she will marry and move away. She is seen buying arsenic in the pharmacy, and shortly after that, Homer disappears forever. Emily becomes a recluse once again, as she did after her father´s death, and when she dies a horrible secret is revealed...
The only time actual roses are mentioned in "A Rose for Emily" is in the third to last paragraph, when the door to the "bridal" chamber is knocked down:
...upon the valence curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights...
A red rose has often been associated with passion by poets and authors.
A "faded rose" would seem to indicate that this is a metaphor for her unconsumated and unrequited love.