It is not exactly clear who the narrator is in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” The story is written in third person, whereby the use of the word ‘we’ has been used repeatedly in the story making it sound like it has more than one narrator. Nonetheless, based on the story, we can assume that the narrator is either a male or a female, who knows Emily and her family very well. This implies that the narrator is somebody who comes from the town where Emily lived: Jefferson. The reason as to why the narrator is either a male or a female is because the voice in the story is genderless. For example, the narrator says, “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily…The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house…” (Faulkner 23). The use of the terms ‘young men’ and ‘ladies’ depicts that the narrator is neither a female nor a male.
The main character in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is Emily. Other characters include the Negro, the tax authorities, and the people of Jefferson town. The relationship between the narrator and Emily is a cold, yet a close association. It is cold because the narrator says not so much pleasant things about Emily or her family. For example, when describing how the entire town viewed Emily, the narrator says, “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care: a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town…” This description appears biased. The narrator also talks of how smelly and dusty Emily’s house was. Besides, the narrator’s description of Emily’s physical appearance is not pleasant. The narrator uses phrases such as ‘a small, fat woman in black’, and ‘eyes like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough’ to describe her.
On the contrary, the relationship between the narrator and Emily is close because the narrator appears to know almost everything about Emily and her family. The narrator even gives a description of how Emily’s house looks like. He/she even knows that Emily’s father was not in good terms with Emily’s relatives in Alabama. Besides, the narrator appears to be echoing the voice of the entire town: Jefferson, where Emily and her family lived. Obviously, the narrator must be somebody who lives in Jefferson, and most likely, just near where Emily lived.
In Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, it is important for readers to hear the story the narrator tells because it helps them to understand who Emily was and why she behaved the way she did. It is through the narrator that the readers know that Emily came from a rich family, and that she did not pay taxes because her father had loaned the town some money before his death.
In Welty’s “Why I live at the P.O.”, the narrator is a sister (she goes by the name Sister) to one of the characters in the story, Stella-Rondo. This is because the story is narrated in first person. At the beginning of the story, the narrator says, “I was getting along fine with Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo until sister Stella-Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again” (Welty 1). This makes it clear that the narrator is a sister to Stella-Rondo. From this, it is clear that the narrator and Stella-Rondo are sisters. Stella-Rondo is the narrator’s younger sister.
The relationship between Sister (the narrator) and Stella-Rondo is presented in the story as a competitive one. For example, Sister once dated the man who had married her younger sister. This is a clear indication of existence of competition between the narrator and her sister. In the story, the narrator keeps of making the sound ‘H’m!’ whenever Stella-Rondo is talking, especially when Stella-Rondo returned how with a child. This is also an indication that the relationship between the narrator and Stella-Rondo. It appears as if it Stella-Rondo’s words against Sister’s (narrator) word. In fact, Sister makes this sound as a sign of disagreement or discontent with what Stella-Rondo says. Sister and Stella-Rondo also engages in a competitive-like kind of a debate about the identity of Shirley-T. Sister states that Shirley-T is not adopted but Stella-Rondo says that the child is adopted. From their exchange of words, Stella-Rondo uses the word of Sister to turn her against their grandfather. This is where Stella-Rondo claims that Sister says that Papa-Daddy should shave his beard.
In addition, the relationship between the narrator and all other characters (her family members) is a contentious one. This is because when Stella-Rondo came back home after separating from her husband, she turns everybody against the narrator, a thing that makes the narrator to leave home and start staying at the post office. This makes their relationship contentious because the narrator had lived with her family members all her life only for them to turn against her when Stella-Rondo returns home. In fact, there is an instance where Mama says that she will stab Sister to death just because Sister left the dinning table while they were in a middle of discussion about her statement about Papa-Daddy, of which it was a fabrication by Stella-Rondo.
It is important for the readers to hear what the narrators says because it helps them to understand the kind of relationship that exists between her (the narrator) and her younger sister (Stella-Rondo). Understanding of the nature of this relationship helps the reader to understand why the narrator lives at the post office.