Style in A Rose for EmilySo, in this short story, what are your thoughts on style?  Are there many metaphors and other figurative language throughout the story?  I am referring specifically to...

Style in A Rose for Emily

So, in this short story, what are your thoughts on style?  Are there many metaphors and other figurative language throughout the story?  I am referring specifically to the paragraph near the end of the story beginning with "The two female cousins came at once" ....... and ending with "divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade in years."

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litelle209 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I suggest that you look at how Faulkner differs overall in his style from other writers rather than concentrating on the little things like metaphors e.g. that every author may produce. You can look at how "organic" or personal his style is in comparison to his fellow contemporary authors. Consider Steinbeck,for instance.Ask yourself what the message is that the text is trying to convey and how the style serves to bring the message of the text to the reader.

Recurring themes in all of Faulkner's writing are notions of race, blood ( and here I am referring to kinship ties, families) and the legacies and histories, or stories, that they produce throughout time. So when you set out to analyze style think about that theme.

Also keep in mind that Faulkner is a modernist, a style that emerged in response to the confrontation with industrial modernity which produced the spread of capitalism in the United States and the possibility of mass annihilation in World War I and WW II. Modernists in general are often concerned with the human psyche ( Freud wrote around the turn of the century)and the effect that the disintegration of society has on human beings. Faulkner also in a very real sense adresses the notion of time and what to do with the past. This may apply to the above quote as the cousins wonder what to do.

Finally, Faulkner's style is often  likened to finding oneself in between two full length mirrors and being able to see an endless series of reflections. Like the mirror will not tell you what the one, true reflection is since they all are, Faulkner is continously open to new interpretations as long as you extract sound reasoning from the text upon which to base your assertions.

If you plan to research his style further, you might want to look at his style in Absalom, Absalom and The Sound and Fury.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clearly one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century, William Faulkner employs figurative language throughout his "A Rose for Emily."  For instance, in the exposition, the narrators, who describe Emily as part of a "tableau" of the past as a "slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground...," employ personification, presenting the house as "lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gaoline pumps--an eyesore among eyesores."

Regarding the paragraph of reference, the descriptions of Emily's father's "crayon face" and "the ladies sibiliant and macabre; and the very old men--some in their brushed Confederate uniforms" attending the funeral symbolize the decay and illusion of the Old South as the old men think they remember Emily "confusing time with its mathematical progression."

Like Emily the past is "not a diminishing road, but...a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches...."  This metaphor explains Emily's earlier illusion that her father was not dead and the old men's illusions that they retain in order to give their lives meaning and familiarity; at the same time this metaphor lends its macabre touch to a gothic tale.


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A Rose for Emily

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