"A Rose for Emily" Analysis
“She carried her head high enough—even when we believed she was fallen” (Faulkner). William Faulkner was an author of novels, short stories, poetry and occasionally screenplays. He had “A Rose for Emily” published in a major magazine on April 30, 1930 (eNotes). “A Rose for Emily” is a short story about Emily Grierson, a well known woman around the city of Jefferson, Mississippi. As the story goes on, readers begin to uncover many hidden things from her past. Using reader response criticism, a reader can analyze “A Rose for Emily” using aspects of anthropology in social class combined with race, anthropology in gender and secrets.
To begin, William Faulkner uses aspects of anthropology in social class and race in the short story, “A Rose for Emily”. For example, Faulkner uses the word ‘negro’ many times in the story. “They were admitted by an old Negro…The Negro led them to the parlor…When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked” (Faulkner). Because of his race and the high class on the town, people find it unnecessary to call him by name. The townspeople believed that just because he was considered below them, they could treat him with any lack of respect they wished. Also, although they did not know, the people of Jefferson believed Emily to be of a high social class.
Based on their assumptions, they were shocked when they found out that she was dating Homer Barron, a day laborer. “…Because the ladies all said, “Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.” (Faulkner). People judged both Emily and Homer based on their places in the social class, even though they knew nothing about either of the two. The judgments made by the townspeople show the lack of respect given to people who are below the supposed “high class”. Additionally, Faulkner also uses anthropology in gender in his story.
Based on a couple quotations taken directly from the story, it is evident that Faulkner has a negative view on women. He first claims all women as being meddlesome, due to the actions of only a few. “When Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful attention for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house” (Faulkner). Faulkner clearly believes that all women have the worst intentions. He stereotypes every woman as nosy, just because there is a possibility that a select few would like to see Ms. Grierson’s house.
Also, since Ms. Grierson had no money, Colonel Sartoris made up a story that her father had loaned the town money so she did not have to pay taxes. “Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it” (Faulkner). Faulkner is basically saying that all women are gullible and will believe any story that is told to them. He implies that women have no brain and are not smart enough to recognize a made up story when it is right in front of their face. To continue, Faulkner uses hidden meaning in “A Rose for Emily”.
He wants the reader to have to infer the actions of Emily. “I want arsenic.” “Why of course,” the druggist said. “If that’s what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for.
” “For rats.” (Faulkner). After reading this conversation between Emily and the druggist, the reader is unsure what the poison will be used for. They could infer many things, such as Emily using it for the poisoning of herself or someone else. Another example is the townspeople not knowing the whereabouts of Homer Barron.
“A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening. And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron” (Faulkner). It could be inferred that after Homer was admitted into the house, he left at his own will. There is also the possibility that Emily made him leave; another option could be that he never left at all. In conclusion, a lot can be learned after reading “A Rose for Emily”.
After reading this story, readers can learn the way people judged others by race and social class, among other things. Based on Emily’s life after her father’s death, the reader can also show the effect a loss can have on someone. This paper can also help readers learn to analyze stories or novels. It can also show readers that by using reader response criticism, you develop a better understanding for what you’re reading, which leads to the story becoming an easier read. Using reader response criticism, a reader can analyze “A Rose for Emily” using aspects of anthropology in social class combined with race, anthropology in gender and secrets.