What is the difference between a small child and a child that is puny? Technically, puny and small are synonyms, but the imagery that each conveys is vastly different, and therefore the meaning of each is altered. An author's choice of words can have a massive effect on the reader's interpretation. Someone who realized this and manipulated it to his full advantage was William Faulkner. One way that an author can increase a reader's enjoyment of his work is by choosing language which creates suspense and mystery. Faulkner's use of language is discussed in both Alice Hall Petry's "Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily'" and Hal Blythe's article of the same name. Faulkner's diction in "A Rose for Emily" heightens the mystery surrounding Emily Grierson's life.
One great puzzle in "A Rose for Emily," highlighted by Faulkner's language is the exact nature of Emily's relationship with Homer Barron. That is because Homer himself remains such an enigma. With an initial reading of the story, Homer appears to be an average kind of man. Those things about him that Faulkner reveals to us, such as his being "a Northerner [and] a day laborer"(279), while highly uncomplimentary in the eyes of the people of Jefferson, warrant little attention from a modern reader. We are glad for Emily and do not begrudge her the companionship, but contrary to Hal Blythe's view of Homer in his article, he never appears to be an "aristocratic and . . . chivalric . . . courtly lover"(49). He is, in fact, a construction worker whom the little boys of Jefferson followed to hear shout at the "niggers"(Faulkner 279). Little about him is aristocratic or chivalrous, because his relationship with Emily is h...
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...e "himself remarked in 1957, [that] the short story as a genre demands precision of language: 'In a short story that's next to a poem, almost every word has got to be almost exactly right. In the novel you can be careless but in the short story you can't'"(54). When a writer in so conscious of the power which he possesses, it should surprise us little that he is so successful in creating emotion and mystery with his pen.
Blythe, Hal. "Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" The Explicator 47 (1984): 49-50.
Clark, Deborah. "Gender, Face & Language in Light in August." American Language 61 (1989): 398-413.
Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily." The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Shorter 5th ed. Ed. R.V.Cassill. New York: W.W. Norton & Comp., 1995. 275-83.
Petry, Alice Hall. "Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" The Explicator 44 (1980): 52-54.
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