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Document related concepts
“A Rose for Emily”
Reader Response Criticism
What is reader-response criticism?
• Moves the focus from the text of a work of literature
to the reader’s reaction to that text.
• Asserts that the reader participates in the production
of the meaning in a work. (As opposed to Formalists,
remember, who think that the work produces its own
meaning, independent of author or reader.) Different
readers coming from different cultural contexts or
time periods will produce different (but not mutually
exclusive) readings of a text, and reader response
critics are interested in tracing how this process of the
construction of meaning happens.
• Is interested in how a reader who is familiar with the
language and literary conventions used in a work of
literature interacts with the text.
What are questions that readerresponse critics might ask?
• Does the text seem to display an awareness of its reader? What
assumptions does the text make about that reader? (There is a
concept that says that a text assumes an “ideal reader,” and reader
response critics are interested in how a work tries to influence that
“ideal” reader, as well as how readers who do not fit that ideal
respond to the work.)
• Does the text make an effort to produce certain responses in the
reader? How? Are these efforts successful?
• Imagine several different possible readers for a text. How might
each of these readers interpret the text differently? Why?
• In describing your own reaction to a text, consider how you are
similar to, or different from, the original audience in terms of
values and cultural assumptions.
• How might a reader’s reaction to a particular text change during a
second reading?
“A Rose for Emily”
• The narrator in this story is never given a
name, but he (or she…) functions as a
character in this story, acting as the “voice” of
the entire community of Jefferson who
watched Emily Grierson’s story unfold. How
does the narrator’s (and by extension, the
community’s) attitude toward Miss Emily
change over the course of the story? Did your
attitude toward her change as well? Where?
“A Rose for Emily”
• This story is not told in a “linear” fashion. It skips
around in time a great deal. How did this meandering,
fragmented approach to time affect your response to
this story? (Remember, the story starts and ends with
the day Emily Grierson died, and everything else we
find out about her is sandwiched in between these
two “bookends.)
• In what other ways is the theme of time important to
this story? What characters and items symbolically
represent this theme? How? What do you think
Faulkner is trying to say about time and history?
“A Rose for Emily”
• Family and community are both very
important to this story. The narrator is
continually drawing our attention to how the
community reacted to Miss Emily’s actions,
and the importance of relatives and kin is
stressed time and time again. What do you
think this story is saying about how individuals
live and interact as part of a larger group with
common expectations and values?
“A Rose for Emily”: The Creepy Stuff
• This is a decidedly macabre little story. How
does Faulkner foreshadow the discovery the
town fathers make at the end of the story?
• Putting on our “Psychoanalytic” hats for a
moment, why do you think Emily Grierson did
what she did? Do you feel sympathy for her?
“A Rose for Emily” and Reader
• What might a reader response critic make of this
• Things to consider:
– The narrator’s “relationship” with the reader
– Different reactions the reader might have to Emily
depending upon the reader’s experiences and cultural
– The reaction you think the author intends to create in the
reader, and how successful the story is at creating those
– Different ways a reader might react to a story on a second