Do you agree with Judith Fetterley's argument or disagree with her analysis of "A Rose for 'A Rose for Emily'"?

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Judith Fetterly analyzes "A Rose for Emily" in The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. She examines Faulkner's use of the grotesque from a feminist perspective. She argues that

it is a story of a woman victimized and betrayed by the system of sexual politics,...

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Judith Fetterly analyzes "A Rose for Emily" in The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. She examines Faulkner's use of the grotesque from a feminist perspective. She argues that

it is a story of a woman victimized and betrayed by the system of sexual politics, who nevertheless has discovered, within the structures that victimize her, sources of power for herself.

Personally, I agree with Fetterley, but only to a certain extent. We can consider how Emily was victimized by sexual politics by acknowledging what it was like for her growing up. The townspeople tell us about Emily's controlling father:

None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.

We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.

Emily is a product of her upbringing. When her father dies and she has no means to pay her taxes, Colonel Sartoris invents a tale so that she will not be required to pay. He even claims the town is repaying a debt to her father, so she will not feel like she is accepting charity. The narrator says, "Only a man of Colonel Sartoris's generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it," which shows how the narrator, townspeople, and Colonel Sartoris look down on women. Even though Sartoris was helping Emily, he feels the need to assist her because of the sexist notion that women are helpless.

I say that I only agree with Fetterley to an extent, because while I agree with sexual politics at play I believe we cannot ignore other factors such as race and class. Yes, Emily was a victim of sexual politics in the way her father controlled her and how Sartoris treated her, but we have to ask if she would have the same treatment had she been in a different class or race. Emily is able to get away with many things because of her class—I do not believe a poor woman would have the same role in the town. Sartoris also create the "edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron," which shows his racism and implies if Emily was not from a white high class Southern family, she would not receive the same treatment. Black women were looked down on more than white women, and I do not think we can ignore the intersectional aspects.

Fetterley argues that the story is

not of a conflict between the South and the North or between the old order and the new; it is a story of the Patriarchy North and South, new and old, and of the sexual conflict within it.

Again, I agree with her analysis, but even if the sexual politics are the main conflict, I do not think we again ignore the conflicts outside of the Patriarchy. "A Rose for Emily" clearly hints at conflicts of class, race, and the fallout of the Civil War. While the Patriarchy may be at the heart of it, we should still acknowledge the other commentary that Faulkner is making.

This is my opinion on Fetterley's analysis. Whatever your opinion may be, make sure you back up your argument with quotes from both Fetterley and Faulkner.

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I agree with Fetterly's analysis, but only up to a point. It's perfectly true that Emily gets away with murder on account of the prevailing notions of womanhood in postbellum Southern society that render her essential femininity invisible. That a woman could ever commit such a heinous crime is simply too terrible for the townsfolk to contemplate. In the story, the prevalent male attitudes are turned back on themselves. Homer Baron doesn't reciprocate Emily's admiration; he treats her as if she's invisible, and this attitude towards her comes back to hurt him. The violence inflicted by men upon women to make them ladies rebounds on them in acts of physical violence, as exemplified by the murder that Emily commits.

At the same time, one could argue that Fetterly hints at, but largely overlooks, the social class aspect involved in Emily's getting away with her crime. Emily comes from a good family, an old Southern family, and as such constitutes a living connection with a romanticized, antebellum past. The townsfolk are not willing to let go of that connection, and so turn a blind eye to Emily's strangeness and hauteur. Her invisibility is therefore as much a product of her living in the past—the past, being the past, is invisible—as it is of her gender.

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I think Fetterly's argument is compelling in that she aptly notes that one of the reasons Emily is able to hide her crime is because she goes so unnoticed by the townspeople.  The reason for their lack of attention (according to Fetterly) is because she is a woman, older and not terribly attractive. 

However, I don't know if this is solely because she is a woman.  I think Emily's African-American servant is equally invisible.  He tends to her for years, probably has more knowledge of Emily than anyone ever gives him credit for.  Like Emily, no one ever thought to ask him what was going on...

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