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William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" contains many kinds of figurative language, beginning with the opening sentence:
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument....
This is an example of metaphor; Faulkner describes the dead Miss Emily to a "fallen monument," a longtime, notable attraction in the town.
Another example of figurative language appears in the second paragraph:
Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps....
Here Faulkner uses personification (giving human qualities or characteristics to non-human or non-living things) to describe Miss Emily's house. Like its owner, the house lifts its "stubborn and coquettish decay" in a display of misplaced pride.
One more example of figurative language can be found in Faulkner's actual description of Miss Emily. We have seen how the town feels about her (she is a "fallen monument") and we have seen that she lives in a house which matches her status of outdated Old Southern charm. Now we meet the Miss Emily for the first time after years of living in virtual isolation:
Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.
Faulkner uses two similes to help us visualize her more clearly. First, Emily is shaped like a body which has been bloated by too much time in water; second, her eyes are tiny and dark, like two pieces of coal pressed into her puffy face.
These are just a few examples of figurative language in this short story, and Faulkner uses them to create a more vivid picture of Miss Emily and her life.
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