February 20th, 2013
“A Rose on the Grave”
The death and decay of a previous generation features prominently in both the theme and the setting of “A Rose for Miss Emily” by William Faulkner. The author uses descriptive language to create a town on the brink of change and a main character cut from the cloth of a different time. As the story progresses we witness an artful weaving of these two elements to create an unforgettable composition of the passage of time and the eradication of an era. The setting begins with Faulkner describing a home that a funeral is taking place in: “ It was a big squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires…set on what had once been our most select street” (Faulkner 622). His use of the adverb “once” clearly points out to the reader that this is no longer case and sets the stage for his story. He even goes as far as to describe the old house as an “eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner 622). As the tone of the story becomes more serious so does Faulkner’s description of the environment it is taking place in, consistently using words like “dusty”, “disuse” and “tarnished” to paint an image in the readers mind of a grand home now in a state of extreme disrepair. By emphasizing decay in the setting Faulkner made it easier to recognize in the theme. He wrote simple phrases such as “received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape” and “flowing calligraphy in faded ink” that lead one to conclude that the home isn’t the only relic from the past (Faulkner 623). Even his description of Miss Emily contributes to the theme of something dying by stating “She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water and of that pallid hue” (Faulkner 623). As the telling progresses so do the people and places in it, falling into desuetude which are ultimately described in the final paragraph of Miss Emily’s death “her gray head propped on a pillow yellow...
Cited: Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Miss Emily." Trans. Array Literature: The Human Experience. Abcarian, Richard, Klotz, Marvin and Cohen, Samuel. 10th. Boston: Bedford/st Martins, 2010. 622-629. Print.
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