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A Reader Response Critique of A Rose for Emily

“William Faulkner is considered by many readers to have been America's greatest modern writer. His fiction satisfies the critical demands that writing be inventive and invigorating, as ready to release the imagination as it is to channel it” William Faulkner was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi. He is considered to be one of the most important writers in Southern literature. His story A Rose for Emily was about a woman from the South who was raised by an overbearing father. Afraid of being abandoned, she kills her sweetheart and keeps him in her bed until he is discovered by the very curious people of her town. Using reader response criticism, the reader can analyze William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily through Moral, Secrets/Hidden Meaning, and Anthropology.

The first aspect of reader-response criticism present in this story was Moral. The passage reads, “…the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of the house.” (Faulkner) This is an example of moral because it shows that the view of women was that they were nosey and sort of disrespectful. Having this type of morality was second nature to people in that time period, so the author probably didn’t think twice about adding this sentence. The next example is when the author says, “…and only a woman could have believed it.” (Faulkner) This part shows that they viewed women as naïve. This reminds me of stories I’ve previously read in school. These stories that include negative notions about women most always take place at the same time period of A Rose for Emily. Women in this day were not perceived as intelligent or capable as men, therefore that morale is portrayed in the literature by William Faulkner. This goes to show that their morals about women were not necessarily that they treated them badly, but they viewed them as inferior.

Next, there are many examples of Secret in the text. The first one being “…just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.” (Faulkner) This is secretive because the author doesn’t explain what the smell was, rather he leaves you wondering. This is intended to create suspense in the story. It seems to me that this writing technique is common for Faulkner, as it appears many times in this short story. Another example would be “I want some poison.” (Faulkner)This once again tells about something serious but doesn’t explain anything about it. It sort of gives you an opportunity to foreshadow what is going to happen next. This is William Faulkner’s style of writing.

Lastly, there are many instances of Anthropology inside the story. The author provides an example of period-specific vocabulary. “The negro led them into the parlor.” (Faulkner) It is a good indicator of the time period because only in that time would someone address a black person as a Negro and have it be socially correct. Another example would be when the author says “…the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of the house.” (Faulkner) This expresses a Victorian time period because the women are clearly portrayed as nosey housewives who are competitive with each other in terms of the beauty in their home.

To analyze the story A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, the three most prevalent aspects are Moral, Secrets/Hidden Meaning, and Anthropology. Criticizing a story in this way helps to understand the deeper meaning and mood to an author’s writing. It also helps to understand the feel of the time period the writing takes place in. This story is significant because it’s a heartbreaking tale about letting go.





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