Study Guide

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner in Reader-Response Theory

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

Reader-Response theorist Norman N. Holland is totally into psychoanalysis. In his book The Nature of Literary Response: 5 Readers Reading, he asked—you guessed it—five readers to respond to a number of different texts, including Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily." It's a story about Emily Grierson, a Southern belle who is jilted by her lover and who ends up, well, you know, killing him and keeping his corpse in her bed for decades. Hey, we've all been there.

Let's look at a passage from the story below and see how a couple of Holland's readers responded to it:

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