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How is the house personified in the second paragraph of "A Rose for Emily?"

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stanhenry | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 17, 2013 at 6:05 AM via web

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How is the house personified in the second paragraph of "A Rose for Emily?"

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 17, 2013 at 3:58 PM (Answer #1)

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In the second paragraph of "A Rose for Emily," the house is personified by the following sentence:

But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps--an eyesore among eyesores. 

"Stubborn" and "coquettish" are adjectives normally applied to personality traits. The meaning of "stubborn" is obvious, but here "coquettish" carries connotations of prim and proper flirtiness, characteristics often stereotypically associated with elite Southern women, especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. So the decrepit house is personified as a sort of old Southern woman who nevertheless persists in trying to maintain her outdated grace and charm amid the modern, less romantic blight of gas stations and cotton gins. At one time it was beautiful and stately. Now it is a sad but quirky anachronism, in many ways like Miss Emily (and, more broadly, the Old South) herself. 


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