This paragraph is found in the middle of William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily”. The narrator uses description to provide the reader with a clear image of Miss Emily’s funeral. As the writer consistently jumps backwards and forwards through time in his story, this excerpt takes us back to where the story began. This paragraph exemplifies one of Faulkner’s central themes in the story: the constant struggle between the past and present.
This theme is most evident in the author’s description of the very old men. First with the imagery of them in their Confederate uniforms, dating them and demonstrating that they very much still exist in the past. Faulkner’s use of metaphor when he writes, “to whom the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches”, demonstrates that the old men are no longer experiencing their lives as what Falkner refers to as “mathematical progression” but rather a constant state where the past and present are one in the same.
The ambivalence of the town’s people towards Miss Emily is another good example of the theme. One could interpret the town’s people’s ambivalence towards her as the present’s ambivalence towards the past.
The sentence structure in this excerpt is interesting. The paragraph opens with a simple sentence, with the remainder of the paragraph being one large compound sentence. The flow of the sentence matches the perspective of the narrator moving through the scene at Miss Emily’s funeral making their own personal observations. The author uses formal words throughout to create suggestive images. This is demonstrated well when describing the portrait in Miss Emily’s house of “the crayon face of her father musing profoundly”, and further by describing “the ladies sibilant and macabre”. The image of her father is an important symbol in the story tying into the theme as he drove men away from her, keeping her from progressing into the present. Describing the ladies...