n William Faulkner’s, “A Rose for Emily,” one can break down the different literary components that were present. By using reader response criticism, the reader can analyze “A Rose for Emily” through moral, character, and anthropology. The story can be described as a southern white woman who is opposed to change to the point that results to murder. The best way to understand these components is to first figure out what was the point? Why was it written? Many stories have a message they like the reader to receive.
People know them more commonly as morals. The moral brought up in a rose for Emily was one of which people face countless times in their lives. It was accepting change, whether change on a small scale or a drastic change as expressed in the story. Emily was faced with the inevitable changes of life that come with old age. Death was the major issues of which she faced. For example, she said “See Colonel Sartoris (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years)” (2).
Emily was not accepting the fact times were changing. She couldn’t even accept acknowledging the death of a man she knew well. Then when it came to the death of her father, the same thing happened. The story explains it that, “She told them that her father was not dead” (4). Her father had controlled her so much with the people she dated, what she did, and how she did it so that she had trouble accepting that he was gone. It took her three days to actually accept what happened and she buried his body.
Her ability to take time to realize change was coming proved to be a difficult challenge in her life. This is similar to how my grandmother acts. She is a very stubborn, Irish Catholic woman. When things are not what she thinks then there is an issue. She actually told me once that the dictionary should be changed because she did not accept its definition. Her resistance to change is very much reflected upon the actions taken by those actions of Emily.
The trauma to Emily had deterred and halted all actions and activities she had once took part in. When the change began to occur, Emily tried as best she could to prevent it. Like when her relatives or close friends died or people began to move away. She got a lover who after a period of time decided to leave her, and she did not want that to happen. An important part of the story was when Emily told the store owner, “I want some poison” (5).
At that point in the story the reader could only guess what the poison would actually be used for. It was a foreshadowing action that would lead to an exciting ending. The surprising ending was finding out the poison was used to kill her lover, and it was discovered she slept with the dead body. The story describes it as, “The man himself lay in the bed” (8). Emily resorted to murder to insure that her lover could not leave her.
She was against change to such an extent that her sanity was debatable. Also, even the townspeople did not do much about Emily’s actions either. They can be related to my mother. When something is needed for school or something, she does not jump at it. It may take days to weeks before the task is done.
The townspeople were the same when it came to issues relating to Emily and her inactivity to society. She didn’t pay taxes, asked for poison, and rarely left her house. All they did was try to get her to change her ways, but they did not pursue achieving that goal. Their efforts were weak at best. This might be a result of their cultural behaviors. This short story took place in the south post civil war era, but yet still before the Civil Rights Movement.
This results in the ideas that African Americans are less equal and women are meant for house work. People had stubborn views and did not want to create tension among others. They believed what they wanted and let it stay as that. The story better explains that, “Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it” (1). That time frame did not expect many things out of anybody. A good explanation is like when families meet for holidays and there is the separation of adults and children.
Children were not allowed to interfere with the adults conversations. There was a belief of inequality just as was apparent in the story. The story’s example is described by when the people of the town used minimal effort to get Emily to pay the taxes and go out more. They wanted to improve the situation, but they would not go against their views of changing anything. Also, with that period, there was the separation of the north and south, not physically, but there was still the distinction of Northerner and Southerner views . They were seen as two different viewing sections of the United States.
The story stated, “Of course a Grierson (Emily) would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer” (4). There was that thought process of people who came from the north and those who came from the south. That separation was beginning to dissipate, but it was still very much alive. Many factors were present in this story and they may not have been clearly visible, but existed none the less. The events that took place in “A Rose for Emily” show different aspects of life in the past and how it affects life now. The reader can analyze it through moral, character, and anthropology.
It clearly shows how change can be caused by cultural views and what actions are taken by it. There are other aspects by which Faulkner intended to write, but these stand out the most.