Reader Response Criticism: William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”
“A Rose for Emily” was written in first person point of view. The narrator is never given a name, but it is apparent to the reader that the narrator is one of the townspeople. This is evident in the opening of the story when the narrator exposits that, “our whole town went to her funeral” (Faulkner, “Rose” 90). This story tells the tale of Miss Emily Grierson in psychological order, beginning with her funeral (as a flashback) and ending with the gruesome discovery of her lover’s remains in her bed (in present time). The destinies of Miss Emily and her lover, Homer Barron, are alluded to by the author’s extensive use of foreshadowing. The author of this story, William Faulkner, was born in 1897, in New Albany, Mississippi (William Faulkner Contemporary par. 1). He was a member of “a once- wealthy family of former plantation owners” (William Faulkner par. 1). Although the town is never named in the story, “ A Rose for Emily” is one of his several stories set in the fictional town of Yoknapatawpha County, “which bears a close resemblance to the region in Northern Mississippi where Faulkner spent most of his life” (William Faulkner Contemporary par. 28) . This is important to know when applying a historical criticism to this body of work.
The setting of this story is important to establish so that the reader can understand why Miss Emily and Mr. Barron come to meet their ultimate fates. The story takes place in the Deep South and covers the years, approximately, during the middle of the 19th century and extending through the beginning of the 20th century. The reader can infer this because “Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care…dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris…remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity” (Faulkner 90-91). The reader later learns that her father died when Miss Emily was around thirty years...
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