A Reader Response Critique of A Rose for Emily

October 31, 2011
In the short story, “A Rose for Emily”, there are morals, hidden meanings, and cultural significances. Miss Emily deals with the inability to let things go, which is part of her character. The hidden meaning of Miss Emily being a tragic character, and the cultural ways of white families in the south towards black people back in the day.
The inability to let something go is a major aspect of Miss Emily’s character. “That was two years after her father’s death and a short time after her sweetheart—the one we believed would marry her—had deserted her. After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly ever saw her at all” (Faulkner). Miss Emily removed herself from society because she could not get over the fact both her father’s passing, and her lover’s leaving. She clutched on to the dream world in her home where they were both still alive. “She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body” (Faulkner). Miss Emily will not except the fact that her father is dead, she is in denial and refuses to let him go.

I believe one of the hidden meanings behind the text is that Emily is a symbol of tragedy and misery. “When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows-sort of tragic and serene” (Faulkner). She is compared to an angel that is tragic and serene because she is a beautiful and miserable human being. All the things in her life going wrong are signs of her being a tragic character. Such as her father dying at first, and then her sweetheart leaving, and now everyone believes her to be going crazy.

The cultural significance in this story is that this is a different time and place then now, because Miss Emily has a negro servant. “and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man—a young man then—going in and out with a market basket” (Faulkner). The Negro is Miss Emily’s servant and he is the one who takes care of her and goes to the market for her. Years ago, many southern families had slaves. But now, that is completely obsolete. “No Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron remitted her taxes” (Faulkner). Back in this time, black men and women did not have nearly the equality with white people as they do today.

Even with so much going on in this short story, much is clear. Such as the characteristics of Miss Emily not being able to let the death of her father and leaving of her sweetheart go, the hidden message of tragedy and misery, and the ways of white families towards the black in the south during this time period. All these aspects play a major role in the character of Miss Emily.





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