A Rose For Emily Essay Question

What in the world-or in the text-could prompt such an anomalous reading, and does this reveal more about the story or our students?

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Furthermore, the presumptive language of the narrator (e.g., "what else could") underscores his own unquestioning inferences, while at the same time teasing skeptical readers to consider, indeed, what else could have been going on.

We need to be more inquisitive, more penetrating, than our workaday narrator.

These same students might be heartened to learn that an obstinate allegiance to their own particular reading of the text, any text, is validated by the most voguish literary theory. If this is the case, then meaning is not something one discovers or extracts but, rather, something one confers or creates.

According to the new paradigm that obtains in the classroom-at least among the avant-garde--teachers should no longer assume the role of hierophant, the initiated priest practiced in the freemasonry of literary hermeneutics, while students, benighted acolytes, gape and scribble down our oracular pronouncements. This model supplants the old aristocratic ideal, where a powerful, privileged reader-the teacher-dispenses authorized readings, ex cathedra, to mute vassals.

And Homer himself is described as a dashing, flamboyant figure--"With his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove" (126)-more of a Colonel Sutpen or Dalton Ames than a Gail Hightower.

If he were simply interested in a temporary dalliance, the cavalier Homer could have done better than the grim, aging Emily Grierson.If so, did Homer get cold feet, or did Emily simply take preemptive measures against that eventuality?Yet another question, or mystery, is why did Homer Barron, a rowdy extrovert, take up with the spinsterly Emily Grierson in the first place?Foremost among these-why would Homer take up with Emily if he were not interested in her romantically?Did Emily provide a convenient cover for his unspeakable predilections, or was she a confidante, a fellow "queer" to whom Homer was drawn instinctively?These are all legitimate, even inevitable questions, but, as most teachers of the story no doubt point out, Faulkner's choice of narrator precludes our ever providing unequivocal answers.The first-person narrator, who represents and reports the consensus view of the townspeople, assumes that Emily is what she appears to be: a fusty, antiquated Southern Belle.A homosexual "day laborer" in the turn-of-the-century South is almost as remarkable and confounding as a hincty, love-starved necrophiliac.That they should form an attachment (the nature of which, under this scenario, also calls for greater scrutiny) would lead us to suppose that the story really concerns both of them as a pair, alter egos of a sort, rather than Emily in isolation, as the title would indicate.Few, for example, figure out (unless their literary roommate has told them) what the man and woman in "Hills Like White Elephants" are debating-though, when told, they find it very ironic that "Jig," the woman, consumes so much alcohol despite her apparent concern for her child.Most first-time readers of "Araby" recognize that the tale concerns juvenile infatuation, yet few appreciate, on their own, how the boy's feelings are colored and conditioned by his religious environment.


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