A Reader Response Critique of A Rose for Emily"

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
“Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor—he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father into perpetuity” (Faulkner). Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays and screenplays during his career. He is primarily known and acclaimed for his novels and short stories, many of which are set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, a setting Faulkner created based on Lafayette County, where he spent most of his childhood. Miss Emily can’t let go of neither her father nor her boyfriend. Using reader response criticism, the reader can analyze William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily through character, secrets, and anthropology.


The reader-response criticism of character is found in the story, “A Rose for Emily.” Faulkner stated how Emily was left, “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 “(Faulkner).” She had gone through two tragedies, the lost of her father and the lost of her boyfriend. It seems like she can’t let go of her loved ones. She doesn’t want to be alone but she has no choice because she has no one else. She was devastated that her father was dead and this caused her to become denial about the situation for quite some time. I can relate to her feeling of losing someone she was close to because I lost my grandfather and I was really close to him. After his death I felt like I had no one to talk to or call in Jamaica. I felt like no one else in my family was as important as my grandfather was to me in Jamaica. When he died, I felt like nothing else mattered at the time, I had to live for him. I was devastated and the devastation caused me to believe he didn’t die for awhile. Faulkner provided information about the relationship of Miss Emily and her father, “We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door” (Faulkner). Growing up Miss Emily’s father was strick. He was overprotective of his daughter. The picture represents her father watching her. I can relate this because my family is overprotective of me and my brothers. Me being the only girl, I am often treated like a child and this involves my father being overbearing sometimes. My family often worries about us when they don’t have to just like Miss Emily’s father.


The reader-response criticism of secrets is found in the story, “A Rose for Emily.” William Faulkner provided description on Miss Emily’s gray hair, “During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning” (Faulkner). It foreshadows the ending of the story when Miss Emily dies and they find the strand of gray hair lying next to her dead boyfriend. This also means Miss Emily was getting older and her hair was beginning to turn different shades of gray. William showed how in denial Miss Emily was, “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 didn’t want to believe that her father had died. She lived as if it was a secret that had her father had been dead for a while. She pretended that her father was alive and when people spoke of his death she acted as if there was no such thing.


The reader-response criticism of anthropology is found in the story, “A Rose for Emily.” Faulkner also showed how Negros were treated, “When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with the slow motes in the single sun-ray” (Faulkner). This degraded African Americans. They had no respect for them, they didn’t call them by their first names. They called them “Negros” and didn’t respect their culture. Now, black people are not labeled as Negros, they are called by their names. I believe people understand how disrespectful the word “Negros” is and that’s probably why it’s not used anymore. In the story Faulkner stated, “What was left of him rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him upon the pillow beside him that even coating of the patient and biding dust” (Faulkner). He was the one murdered and usually the women are the ones “treated badly” in relationships. He was treated as if he was nothing and that’s what people thought of him because everyone said Miss Emily shouldn’t be with him because he was a field worker and that’s how he was treated. I believe Miss Emily only killed so she could prevent him from leaving her like she felt her father had done, she killed him and she kept his body and lay next to it every day as if Homer was alive. She didn’t want someone to leave her again.


Using reader response criticism, the reader can analyze William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily through character, secrets, and anthropology. People can learn that it’s okay to let go of losing someone sometimes because if they don’t it’s just going to get worst and people need to understand that death is a part of life. If they decide to hold on, they could end up like Miss Emily. Miss Emily didn’t want to be alone and she felt as if she had no one so when the opportunity came for her to have someone again, she made sure that they weren’t going to desert like she felt her father had.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback