A Reader Response Critique of A Rose for Emily

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“We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that, We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.”(A Rose for Emily) William Faulkner was a prolific writer who became very famous during his lifetime, but who shied away from the spotlight as much as possible. He is remembered as both a gentlemanly Southern eccentric and an arrogant, snobbish alcoholic. But perhaps the best way to describe Faulkner is to describe his heritage, for, like so many of his literacy character, Faulkner was profoundly affected by his family. A Rose for Emily is about a woman who has had every man she liked pushed away from her and told they weren’t good enough for her by her father. When her father dies Miss Emily tried coping with the lost but losing her father takes a major toll on her until she meets Homer Baron. When her and Homer start getting serious the people in town start talking because Homer comes from the other side of the tracks. This makes Miss Emily nervous and she doesn’t want to lose Homer like she lost everyone else in her life, so she gets poison and kills him. She keeps Homer’s body in her basement and sleeps next to him every night. When she dies the police discover Homer’s body and found out Emily’s true colors. Using reader response criticism, the reader can analyze William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily through Miss Emily herself, her actions throughout the story and her morals.
To begin with, the character Miss Emily has been through a lot throughout the story. For example, she loses her father. After she lost her father people barely saw Miss Emily and she lost contact with the people in town. The only way people knew Miss Emily was still alive was by her servant running errands for her. “After her father’s death she went out very little. A few ladies had the temerity call, but were not received, 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 death of Miss Emily’s father takes a great toll on her. I can relate to how Miss Emily is feeling because I have also lost someone very close to me. My grandmother died when I was only fourteen years old. After she passes away going through my everyday life became really difficult because I spend majority of my time after school at her house helping her out with things around the house. My grandmother meant a lot to me and I miss her everyday but I now understand that she is not in any pain anymore and she is in a better place. Another example of Miss Emily going through a lot throughout the story is, she did not only lose her father throughout the story, she also lost her sweetheart. After she lost her sweetheart people didn’t see Miss Emily in the streets for almost six months. The people in town expected this because when she lost her father they didn’t see Miss Emily for awhile but they still continued seeing Miss Emily’s servant coming out of the house to run errands for her. They knew Miss Emily wasn’t dead because they would see her from time to time in the window of the house. “And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets. Then we knew that this was to be excepted too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her women’s life so many times had been to virulent and too furious to die.” (Faulkner). I can relate to how Miss Emily felt when she lost her sweetheart because a couple years ago I lost my best friend. My best friend and I meet during softball when we were thirteen and we were inseparable since. We did everything together we went to the movies together, we ate lunch together, and we hung out every single day after school. It wasn’t until she moved away last year that we stopped being so close. We hardly talk now and never see each other even when she comes in to visit for the holidays. I wish we would have never grown apart and still stayed as close as we were back in seventh grade but things change and so do people.
As a result, the actions Miss Emily took throughout the story show how she felt about things happening in her life. For example, when she killed Homer so she didn’t have to break up with him because they weren’t suppose to be together. They stopped seeing Homer after Miss Emily called off their wedding. The people in town never knew she killed Homer they all thought that she just broke up with him because she realized it wasn’t right for them to be together. “And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets. Then we knew that this was to be excepted too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her women’s life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die” (Faulkner). I can relate to Miss Emily and her actions because when I was ten my cat died. I loved my cat Buddy we did everything together and he was the best cat in the entire world. He got out one day and I didn’t think anything of it but when my parents found him in the street the next day I knew he wouldn’t survive. My parents gave me his collar to keep because they knew how close and attached I was to him. I miss him every day and their not a day that goes by that I wish he wasn’t still alive lying with me on the couch watching T.V. Another example, of actions Miss Emily took throughout the story to show how she felt about thing happening in her life was she lost her father and couldn’t live with that he was really dead. When Miss Emily’s father died the ladies from town came to her house to give their respects to her she greeted them all at the door in a cheerful voice with no grief at all on her face. She told everyone in town that her father was not dead and kept the body for three days after the death. Miss Emily gave up the body right before the police got involved and soon after buried the body. “The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. 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. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly” (Faulkner). I can relate to Miss Emily’s actions because when I lost my grandmother in eighth grade I couldn’t let her go. I couldn’t believe that she was really gone and I refused for a long time to believe that she was really dead. When someone really close to you passes it takes a great toll on a person and not everyone can understand that unless they too have lost someone close to them. It’s not easy to cope with someone close to you dying but life has to go on and you have to go on with it.
For this reason, Miss Emily learned many morals throughout the story. For example, she learned in her own way how to grieve the death of her sweetheart. Miss Emily kept the body of her sweetheart because she couldn’t let him go. She loved Homer too much to break up with him because it was the right thing to do in other people’s eyes. She killed Homer so that she would never have to lose him and she could have him with her all the time. “The man himself lay in the bed. For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. 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 and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust” (Faulkner). I can relate to Miss Emily because letting go of someone that once meant so much to you is hard to do. My freshman year in high school I went out with this body who I became extremely attached to. He broke up with me the beginning of my sophomore year and I was heartbroken. I still to this day have everything he has ever given me including notes, clothes and presents from birthday and Christmas. Even though things didn’t work out between us I still will always have feelings for him and he will always be in my heart forever. Another example of how Miss Emily gained new morals is she learned how to not only deal with losing the love of her life but the man who raised her from an infant to an adult, her father. Miss Emily had trouble losing her father when he first passed away but when Homer Barron came into town she started focusing more on Homer and her then on her father being dead. Homer was Miss Emily’s escape to forget about the tragedy that happened and move on. “The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks, and in the summer after her father’s death they began the work. The construction company came with riggers and mules and machinery, and a foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee- a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the riggers, and the riggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. Pretty soon he knew everybody in town. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be the center of the group. 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.” (Faulkner). I can relate to Miss Emily because coping with a death is really hard and you need someone there for you when times get rough. When my grandmother passed away when I was fourteen, I was going through a lot but lucky I had my boyfriend at the time there for me when I needed him and there for me even when I didn’t just to keep me company and let me know things will get better. When a person loses someone really close to them life their grandmother or father things don’t ever go back to the way they used to be but nothing every stays the same, things keep changing as people keep changing. The best thing you can do when you lose someone close to you is keep your head held high, have great friends by your side and just think they are in a better place now.
Therefore, using reader response criticism, the reader can analyze William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily through Miss Emily herself, her actions throughout the story and her morals. Anyone who reads A Rose for Emily will learn that coping with someone’s death that was close to you isn’t easy and you need your friends, family, and loved ones there to help you get through hard times. The story A Rose for Emily helps people understand that losing someone close to you is a very difficult thing and it takes a lot of time and a lot of healing to move on with your everyday life.





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