A Reader Response Critique of A Rose For Emily

October 31, 2011
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Analyzing a story can be difficult. Each reader has their own perception of each work of Literature. In A Rose for Emily, the reader must come up with conclusions about Emily’s character and the works as a hole. Using reader response criticism, the reader can analyze William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily through character, secrets, and moral. This short story is one like no other in the fact that Emily is like no other character.

Chiefly, Equality among races is an issue that many have fought and died for. Emily on the other hand seems too good for her race. Emily is a white woman who happens to have an African American servant. The key point would be that Emily doesn’t give a man of serving the privilege of having a name. When Emily refers to her servant she calls him “negro”. In the short story, Faulkner stated, “The Negro led them into the parlor. I was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When Negro opened the blinds of one window, they can see that the leather was cracked;” (1). Emily didn’t have the proper manners to call her servant by his name. I see this in school quite frequently when teachers don’t call their students by their names. Even when Emily leaves her house, one of the few times that she does, one druggist’s assistance who is African American doesn’t get the right to have their name. Faulkner wrote, “The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn’t come back” (5). Each person deserves to at least get the privilege to be called their name. However Emily doesn’t possess the equality trait.

Furthermore, Emily gave off the vibe that she was like no other woman. Emily’s father was known to the town as a highly respected man. Therefore, while other women were suppose to be in the kitchen cooking, Emily was not. Faulkner wrote, “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 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” (1). Due to the fact that Emily’s father was so important, Emily did get the luxury of not having to be like the rest of society. Emily didn’t have to pay taxes and she didn’t have to walk around with an apron on like other women in the town. Also, due to her father, Emily didn’t have to pay taxes like the rest of the community. Faulkner continues to write, “Not that Miss Emily would have accepted charity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved talk to the effect that Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this was of repaying” (1). No one person white or not should be treated above the law. If everyone in the community has to pay taxes then Emily should too. I feel as though everyone deserves equal treatment. Being an honors student, many teachers expect higher of me when I turn in what the rest of my class turns in. I feel as though my work deserves to be graded just as theirs is. I shouldn’t have to over work myself if no one else is. Emily shouldn’t get special treatment because her father was said to be a big man around town.

Strangely, Emily was grown into a world where change would in no way, shape, or form be accepted. As a child and even into adult hood, Emily was not allowed to move out. Due to that fact, Emily and her father were very close. When he died, Emily wasn’t sure how to handle it. Faulkner wrote, “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 saw her at all” (2). Emily couldn’t handle any change. After her father died, Emily was so obsessed with the idea that her sweetheart, Homer, would leave her too. With that mind set, Emily set out to buy poison so that Homer, her lover, would never leave her. As the years passed, Emily grew sick and died and the discovery of her lover shocked the town due to the fact they were under the impression that Homer left. Faulkner continues to explain Emily’s obsession by, “The man himself lay in the bed” (8). Emily was a girl who needed to keep everything the same and when it couldn’t, she made sure it would. Emily poisoned one of the people she feared would leave her and refused to leave the house even though her father wasn’t there to keep her inside. Personally the way Emily went about it was not ok. She shouldn’t be sleeping with a dead body. Due to her father’s behavior she was messed up. I know when my uncle died I was a mess just like Emily was when her father died. Losing someone that means a lot to someone is very hard to do. However, each person grows with change; something Emily will never understand.

Conclusively, Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily can be analyzed by character, secrets, and moral. Due to her father’s influence, Emily was the odd person in the town, which was noticed. With the not leaving the house as well as killing the only man she loved, Homer, Emily couldn’t handle change. Life had to be left the way it was before her father left her. Emily was rude in the fact that she wouldn’t grace her servant with the honor of having a name. Also, Emily didn’t have to pay taxes like the rest of the town. Fairness, equality, and change are the three things Emily will never know anything about. Those three key point are what make this short story a completed work or literature.





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