How does Faulkner describe Miss Emily in the sixth paragraph of "A Rose for Emily"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

She is a "small, fat woman" dressed in black.  All of her attire and accessories are in black and gold.  She is essentially lifeless, for Faulkner writes,

"She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue."

Even her face doesn't move, except for her barely visible eyes.  Faulkner's description is a subtle example of foreshadowing for the story's ending, forMiss Emily is dressed entirely in black, indicating that she is in mourning. The reader knows that it is not a sign of grief for her father's death, because the narrator's visit takes place decades after Emily's father's death. This forcesone to consider for whom she might be mourning.

Additionally, Miss Emily is a barely living corpse ("a body long submerged in motionless water") whichhints at the literal corpse she has "stored" in her bedroom.  The words "submerged" and "motionless" are also significant because Miss Emily is weighed down by tradition and stuck in the traditional past. While her town and others around her progress, she barely lives.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily is not described favourably: She is a short "fat woman in black" and she is also "bloated like a body submerged in motionless water, and pallid hue." Her character and persona are also described later on with not much grace except for the aristocratic nature of her behavior which is described as:

‘‘an idol in a niche … dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.’’

Furthermore, she also is compared to her cousins, who apparently are even more staunch Southern than Emily herself, in fact, being described as "more Grierson than Emily will ever be."

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A Rose for Emily

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