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A Rose for Emily Analysis


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“It is my aim, and every effort bent, that the sum and history of my life, which in the same sentence is my obit and epitaph too, shall be them both: He made the books and he died” (Faulkner 1). William Faulkner expresses his goal and duty in life through these words; all he wanted to do was become known for his literature. Faulkner grew up in Oxford Mississippi raised by a southern family. He joined the Royal Air Force during World War I and this experience helped give him inspiration for writing his novels and his short stories while on the Oxford farm (Nobel Prize 1). One of his most famous short stories, A Rose for Emily, is famous for its plot about a young lady who is raised by her over protective father and as she ages and he passes, she is left with his debt and his wishes. Using reader response criticism, a reader can analyze “A Rose for Emily” using aspects of gender anthropology, race anthropology, and action.

To start off, anthropology and gender plays a main role in the plot of A Rose for Emily and it reflects the author’s views. In the starting paragraph of this short story Faulkner writes, “The men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house” (A Rose for Emily). This shows that Faulkner has a strong opinion that women fit the stereotype of being nosey. It says that the men showed up to solely pay their respects, because according to the author, the men don’t have any other reason to be inside her house other than to be polite. The women showed up simply to see the house she lived in and to gossip. This also shows the type of relationship Emily had with the town’s women. If the women were curious about the inside of the house, then they obviously were not in her house regularly or maybe never. It shows that Emily kept to herself and did not have many close friends because she never had people inside her home, which would be strange only for women. If a man lived alone and did not have many visitors it would be socially accepting because men do not gather together and gossip. The fact that the author was trying to show that there was something strange about Emily by inferring that not many women came to her house, shows the stereotypical gossiping woman. The second quote that explains gender is, “Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it” (A Rose for Emily). One can assume that the author was trying to get across that women are gullible and that men are logical. When describing the man, the author uses words like “thought” and “invent”. These are logical words which can infer that men are more intelligent than women. Gender can be found throughout this novel to describe the plot line and the author’s views.

A second idea in William Faulkner’s short story is anthropology and race. The author consistently uses racial words to refer to the African-American characters in the story. For example, “The negro led them into the parlor” (A Rose for Emily). The fact that Faulkner did not give the man a name shows that he does not have respect for him. It also takes away the man’s humanistic qualities because according to the reader, he has no name and is just identified as “negro”. All humans are born with a name and out of natural respect and politeness everyone greets each other by their own personal names, however, this character is not which shows that William Faulkner is being prejudice towards the African-American race. Another quote that can be found in this short story to illiterate race is, “It’s probably just a snake or a rat that Nigger of hers killed in the yard” (A Rose for Emily). This quote is a perfect example of race because the character is using a demeaning name to call an African-American man. Not only does the narrator use name-calling, but he also gives the man a low income job. In the quote it says that the man is doing yard work which illustrates to the reader that he is not educated and is a laborer. This can even be assumed that the man is treated as a slave. He waits on Miss Emily hand and foot and does all of her groceries and labor work. The African-American race can be found throughout this short story.

The last aspect that can be found in A Rose for Emily is action. I can relate to many ideas in this story but two in particular stick out because they resemble my parents. The first quote I found is, “presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable” (A rose for Emily). Since Miss Emily and Homer Barron are opposites, this shows that opposites can attract because they were seen spending quality time together. It especially shows that they like each other because they are spending a holy day, Sunday, together. My parents are also extreme opposites. My mother is shy and straight laced while my father is out-going and care free. While reading this, I immediately thought of my parents because they too are opposites who attract. Another quote that reminded me of my parents’ relationship is, “Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer” (A Rose for Emily). Emily and Homer were complete opposites and everyone around them did not think that they would work well together. Nobody thought my parents would ever date either because my mom was always getting good grades, staying out of trouble, and focusing on the task at hand while my dad was doing the complete opposite of that. It was like the teachers pet dating the trouble maker in the back of the room; no one thought it could happen. The actions of Miss Emily and Homer can be related to my parents’ relationship.

To conclude, using reader response criticism; a reader can analyze “A Rose for Emily” using the aspects of race, gender, and action. This short story written by William Faulkner is important because it discusses many literary topics. The topics discussed are informative about the way of living in the south and they are relatable to the reader.



Works Cited
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Print
“William Faulknew – Biography”. Nobelprize.org. 14 Mar 2011
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/lauretes/1949/faulkner-bio.html



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MAMMAOLIVIA said...
Sep. 14 at 5:00 pm:
You might want to rewrite, because you are wrong from where you have gotten your concept. You started your concept on the Negro not having a name but infact his name was Tobe, as Emily called him and he appeared. So that might change your thought on this part of the story completely.
 
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Cody K. said...
May 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm:
This is a well written article! well done. I agree with everything in this article because i read the story as well and it is one hundred percent correct. Good use of vocab as well! NICE JOB! :)
 
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