In the short story A Rose for Emily, (1930) William Faulkner presents Miss Emilys instable state of mind through a missed sequence of events. Faulkner arranges the story in fractured time and then introduces characters who contribute to the development of Miss Emilys personality. The theme of isolation is also presented by Faulkners descriptive words and symbolic images.
Faulkner uses anachronism to illustrate Miss Emilys confused mind. The story is split into five sections. The first section begins with Miss Emilys funeral and moves on to her past. Faulkner first recaptures the dispensation of Miss Emilys taxes in 1894, he continues by illustrating Miss Emilys nature no to accepts new concepts. When the next generation, with its more modern ideas comes along, Miss Emily refuses to accept them (1009).
Miss Emilys mixed feeling about the past is reflected in the structure of the story. Unlike most stories, the narrator does not continue the plot with the next chronological event rather presents one that happened two years earlier. This switch once again mirrors Miss Emilys unclear state of mind. The storys disjointed time frame not only reflects a puzzled memory but it also suggests Miss Emilys unwillingness to move along with time. While the reader reads through time and expects the story to be in sequence, Faulkner deliberately switches the time back and forth to emphasize Miss Emilys desire to stay in past.
After the author introduces the character of Miss Emily, he goes back even further into the past to explain why Miss Emily possesses her unique personality. He also contributes to the development of Miss Emilys personality through the introduction of her father, Homer Barron, and Miss Emilys great aunt who all influence her maturity and experience of life. The primary figure in Miss Emilys life is her father. Faulkner uses this relationship to reveal Miss Emilys reserved nature. Because her father is an upper class figure, some of his ways of thinking has thwarted [Miss Emilys] life (1013). Miss Emily has always been kept in confined environments that only her father knows what she will do.
The event of her fathers death is a shock to Miss Emily because the guidance of her father is gone. This explains Miss Emilys behavior after her fathers death as well as her reaction to another character, Homer Barron. Homer Barron is the first lower-class person to reach Miss Emily after her fathers death. While Miss Emily is still distressed by her fathers death, homers affection brings Miss Emily out of her grief. Homer Barron therefore frees Miss Emily from her reserved nature. However, the news that homer Barron is leaving town for another women pushes Miss Emily to the edge of insanity, While Miss Emilys father and Homer Barron influences Miss Emily to have the confused personality she does, Faulkner also suggests her insane behavior may be inherited. The insanity of Miss Emilys great aunt, old lady Wyatt, suggests that Miss Emilys craziness may be passed on from her family line. By informing the reader about old lady Wyatts insanity, Faulkner foreshadows Miss Emilys own madness.
Not only does the author use many details to express Miss Emilys isolation, but he also uses many descriptive words. To suggest Miss Emilys separation from the modern society, Faulkner uses words such as coquettish decay, tarnished gold, and nobles oblique to depict the past. (1008-1014) Faulkner expands the paradox coquettish decay to illustrates the fact that Miss Emilys house is different from any other house in the community (1009). While Miss Emilys house used to be a magnificent building in town, it has now turned to be an eyesore among eyesores (1008). With the paradox of coquettish decay, Faulkner contrasts the attractiveness of the house in the past with the unattractiveness of it in the present. The comparison between the old and the new display explains why the house is separated from the other houses. Another word Faulkner uses to reflect the past is tarnished. (1009) As Faulkner describes Miss Emily in her old age, he uses tarnished gold head to described Miss Emilys cane. (1009) While gold is regarded as an expensive material with a shiny and smooth surface, Faulkner alters the description of gold. By describing gold as being tarnished, Faulkner suggests the ageing and decay of the cane as well as Miss Emily herself.
Other than using words to describe the past, Faulkner also uses phrases such as noblesse oblique to illustrate Miss Emilys isolation. (1011) By using this phrase, Faulkner implies the honorable behavior Miss Emily once had that leads her to the separation from the community both in the past and in the present.
Not only does Faulkner uses descriptive words to state the theme of old age and isolation, but he also uses symbolic images. One symbolic image that Faulkner creates to illustrate the theme of isolation is the image of the house. While Faulkner spends much of his time describing the setting of the house, the descriptions actually refer to Miss Emilys isolation. The house is described as being one that stood on the most select street in town. (1008) Like the house, Miss Emily has once been in the spotlight. As the house stood isolated from the rest of the other houses, Miss Emily is separated from the townspeople. In the same way, while the house becomes a fallen Monument. Miss Emily becomes a pauper. (1009, 1011) By comparing the still house to Miss Emily, Faulkner portrays the atmosphere that Miss Emily is as lifeless as the house itself. Faulkners description of the houses cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in its framework, imitates Miss Emilys complex character. (1009) While the townspeople pay attention to the old-fashioned house, they also pay the same respect to the owner of the house, Miss Emily.
Faulkner effectively compares the house to Miss Emily.
William Faulkners short story A Rose for Emily uses many literary devices such as plot to emphasize the theme of mixed memory. While most stores are written in chronological order, this story is broken up into characters to build up Miss Emilys personality both externally and internally. While Faulkner uses Miss Emilys father and homer Barron to affect miss Emily in her environment, Faulkner also old lady Wyatt to suggest the possible inheritance of this unexplainable behavior from her family. Descriptive words are another big part of the story since Faulkner uses them to describe the themes of old age and isolation. While coquettish decay and tarnished gold head is used to compare old to new, noblesse oblique is used to reflect Miss Emilys past. Not only does Faulkner use descriptive words to describe Miss Emily, but he also uses symbolism. Throughout the story, Faulkner uses the description of Miss Emilys house to refer to Miss Emily herself. Miss Emilys once normal behavior and deterioration is captured in the houses old-fashioned look and the decayed look. Faulkner uses all these literary devices to present the themes of mixed memory, old age and isolation.