Sentence Structure and Figures of Speech in an Excerpt from “A Rose for Emily”

Sentence Structure and Figures of Speech in an Excerpt from “A Rose for Emily”

Sentence Structure and Figures of Speech in an Excerpt from “A Rosefor Emily”

“They rose when she entered–a small, fat woman in black, with athin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt,leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton wassmall and spare perhaps that was why what would have been merelyplumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like abody long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Hereyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two smallpieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from oneface to another while the visitors stated their errand. She did notask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietlyuntil the spokesman came to a stumbling halt. Then they could hearthe invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain. Her voicewas dry and cold. &quotI have no taxes in Jefferson. ColonelSartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access tothe city records and satisfy yourselves.&quot &quotBut we have. Weare the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn`t you get a notice fromthe sheriff, signed by him?&quot

&quotI received a paper, yes,&quot Miss Emily said. &quotPerhapshe considers himself the

sheriff. . . I have no taxes in Jefferson.&quot

&quotBut there is nothing on the books to show that, you see. Wemust go by the–&quot

&quotSee Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson.&quot

&quotBut, Miss Emily–&quot

&quotSee Colonel Sartoris.&quot (Colonel Sartoris had been deadalmost ten years.) &quotI have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!&quotThe Negro appeared. &quotShow these gentlemen out.&quot

Utilizing implied metaphor, the passage onsets by revealing Emilyas a debile and aged woman the narrator describes Emily’s debilityby using the words black, ebony, and coal, which allows the reader tovisualize her clearly. In addition, the narrator establishes aconflict by linking the past with the present. On the other hand, theexchange between Emily and the city authorities exposes stubbornnessand the uncanny nature of Emily.

The passage provides a different portrait of Emily, which contrastssharply from her youth. The narrator illustrates this portrait byproviding a link between the past and the present. For example, thenarrator describes her as, “Perhaps that was why what would havebeen merely plumpness in another was obesity in her,” (Line 44-45).The use of metaphor and simile in the passage helps to describe Emilyand relate her character to the progress of the story. Later, thedialogue that ensues between her and the city authorities provides aremarkable illustration on her character development. In fact, theexchange helps to exemplify her power and stubbornness. In thisregards, the passage encompasses metaphors, similes, different tones,and the use of derogatory terms to reinforce the main ideas of thewhole story.

Faulkner verbally elucidates the portrait of Emily as well as hershows her transformation from a virginal victim to a ‘manly’woman. The structure of the passage and the imagery used helps tounveil the interior intricacy through external appearances. Forexample, the representation of Emily in her doorway contrasts sharplywith the representation of her youth. For example, Faulkner describesher, “Her skeleton was small and spare perhaps that was why whatwould have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her,”(Line 44-45). The contrast represented points to the change that hasoccurred in Emily from an enviable youth to a small old woman. Nolonger slender, Emily presents an inconsistent image as her stoutnessengulfs her spare and small frame life has overwhelmed her youth.However, Faulkner’s choice of words in the passage points tosomething different. The exchange that ensues shows Emily’sdominance and power. Faulkner narrates, “They rose when sheentered–a small, fat woman in black,” (Line 42). The story hasprogressed and with this progress, Emily’s character has changed,which is best explained by the color of her dress. Probably, Faulknerchooses black to exemplify its traditional evil. However, the ensuingdialogue shows that Faulkner choice of black has more meaning andpurpose to the entire story since it represents dominance in thissection. Emily controls the dialogue, which shows her dominance.

In addition, to dominance, black signifies death as earlier asserted.In fact, the descriptions of death as related to black emerge in animplied manner: her pale complexion, her cold voice, her bloatedbody, and the drowned body. Time and the inexorable essence ofchanges have died in Emily thus, it has lost the mathematicalprogression in Emily’s case. Her gold chain has disappeared intoher belt and her body has metaphorically sank in the unmoving watersthat presage stagnant time. In fact, Emily has lost all meanings ofchange and has locked herself in all outward vestiges of change. Sherefuses to resolve the matter of tax by telling Aldermen to consultColonel Sartoris, who has been dead for almost a decade. Althoughthis exchange illustrates the dominance that Emily presents, it alsoexemplifies the degree of her delusions. She declines to pay taxsince she is convinced that an arrangement that preceded the“gentlemen” remains valid and that her protector (who is dead) isstill in office.

Throughout the entire passage, Faulkner employs idiolect such asunique choice of words and vocabulary. The passage has elaboratesentence structure, which is mostly exemplified by the conciseness ofthe dialogue that ensues. In fact, the dialogue is a sort ofdeviation from the whole passage and helps to form a contrast withthe elaborate sentence structure. In this episode, Faulkner livelydepicts Emily as a strong character in the dialogue. She refuses topay tax even though her utterances of “See Colonel Sartoris” donot conform to the maxim of quality since Colonel Sartoris was dead.In fact, the city authorities waited upon her without someone askingthem to sit and they stated their errand to a stumbling halt.Furthermore, Emily interjects, “I have no taxes in Jefferson,”(Line 53, Line 59). This repetitive words illustrate her arrogance,which violates the maxim of manner as well as helps her maintains heraristocratic dignity. In addition, the words show how Emily does notaccept social change as an aristocrat, but clings to aristocracytradition and conventions. In this regards, the reader derives theimplication from character speech as advanced by Faulkner. Faulknerintends the reader to perceive the rigid arrogance and controlthrough the conversation between Emily and the Aldermen. Prior to thedialogue, silence permeates, which indicates the indifference ofEmily and the confrontation that ensues. In fact, the reader candeduce the suggestion of the spokesman’s stumbling halt that is,they have already lost the battle at the first collision.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the conversation, Emily says,“Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff,” (Line 58-59). Thesewords are imperative with hardly a thread of palpable politeness. Onenotes that the tone of “perhaps” is commanding and satiricalrather than suggesting in fact, it is as if what she wants to occurhas already happened. The spokesman’s response is polite, asillustrated by the choice of the words, “Miss Emily.” Althoughthe spokesman shows his displeasure, he still endeavors to reasonwhile her courtesy disappears for he alters his practice of addressfrom “Miss Emily” to “you”. In fact, the spokesman’s use ofthe antithetical “but” illustrates his refusal to accept heranswer as well as challenges her reply’s reasonableness. Throughthe exchange, Emily interrupts the spokesman (best explained by theuse of dash in line 60 and 62): she takes the floor, interjects thespokesman, and exercises her control verbally. In addition, the wayshe orders the “Negro” to tell them to go away is impolite as itsuggests, she does not consider them capable of acting sensibly.

The utilization of the figures of speech in the passage is telling.As stated earlier, Faulkner uses implied metaphor in the form ofblackness for aging and encumbrance. Faulkner says, “A small, fatwoman in black… leaning on an ebony cane… looked like two piecesof coal.” The implied metaphor in the description highlights agingas well as shows how time has progressed and affected Emily’sappearance even if time progress has not affected her thinking. Inaddition, to the application of implied metaphor, Faulkner usessimile to illustrate debility and aging. For example, “like a bodylong submerged,” “looked like two small pieces of coal,”illustrates aging. In addition, Faulkner uses derogatory terms toprogress the story. For instance, Faulkner says, “Tobe!&quot TheNegro appeared,” The use of the word ‘negro,’ reveals theracial discrimination that existed at the time of the story as wellas reflects the challenges that developed after the Civil War. Inaddition, the use of the derogatory term, ‘negro’ to describeAfrican-American shows Faulkner’s intention of illustrating thehumiliation of African-American. The entire passage provides aremarkable portrait of Emily and helps to reveal domineering naturedespite being debile.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. &quotA rose for Emily.&quot (2006).