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Aspects Of Characterization Essay, Research Paper

The use of literary devices such as diction and symbolism are crucial elements in

establishing characterization. The diction, writer?s choice of words, much be appropriate

for the characters and the situations in which the author places them (Meyer 234).

Therefore, William Faulkner?s diction in ?A Rose for Emily? will differ greatly from

Ernest Hemingway?s ?Soldier?s Home.? Hemingway uses the Kreb?s family home and

Faulker uses the element of time as symbols. The home and the element of time are

symbolic because each has meanings that go beyond its specific qualities and functions

(Meyer 194). Setting also plays a major role in characterization. Setting is the context in

which the action of a story occurs (Meyer 137). If one is sensitive to the contexts

provided by setting, one is better able to understand the behavior of the characters and the

significance of their actions (Meyer 137). In order to understand Miss Emily it would be

useless to place her in the same setting as Krebs and vice versa.

Different words evoke different associations in a reader?s mind, diction is crucial

in controlling a reader?s response (Meyer 234). Faulkner?s choice of words allows the

readers to vividly picture Miss Emily?s physical traits as well as her attitude. By

describing the Grierson house, Faulkner is cleverly inviting an observation of Miss Emily.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated

with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome

style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street.

But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the

august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily?s house was left,

lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the

gasoline pumps – an eyesore among eyesores. (Meyer 71)

Miss Emily was a woman that kept to herself. She lived in a time when socializing with

the other women and being married at a certain age was necessary. Miss Emily somehow

managed to stray away from the norm. Faulkner shows Miss Emily?s reclusion through

the sparse use of dialogue between Miss Emily and other people. Krebs like Miss Emily

was going through a period of seclusion. They were experiencing these feelings for

different reasons. Hemingway avoided the usage of elaborate and dramatic diction. The

words are basic and allows the reader to get into Kreb?s mind. The reader is able to listen

not only to what Krebs thinks but to how he thinks (Meyer 235).

He tried so to keep his life from being complicated. Still, none of it has

touched him. He had felt sorry for his mother and she had made him lie.

He would go to Kansas City and get a job and she would feel all right

about it. There would be one more scene maybe before he got away. He

would not go down to his father?s office. He would miss that one. He

wanted his life to go smoothly. It had just gotten going that way. Well,

that was all over now, anyway. He would go over to the school yard and

watch Helen play indoor baseball. (Meyer 144)

The majority of the sentences begin with the word ?He.? Hemingway?s choice of diction

reflects Krebs firm determination to make, one step at a time, a clean, unobstructed break

from his family and the entangling complications they would impose on him (Meyer

235). Through the effective use of diction it is easy to gain insight into Miss Emily and


A symbol is a vehicle for two things at once: It functions as itself, and it implies

meanings beyond itself (Meyer 635). Faulkner and Hemingway use literary symbols that

have a significant impact on their characters overall attitudes. A literary symbol can

include traditional, conventional, or public meanings, but it may also be established

internally by the total context of the work in which it appears (Meyer 194). Hemingway

strayed away from the conventional meaning of home. Krebs did not find comfort,

happiness, peace, or safety in his family?s home. Krebs home becomes symbolic of

provincial, erroneous presuppositions compounded by blind innocence, sentimentality,

and smug middle-class respectability (Meyer 194). After returning ?home? from war,

Kreb?s was not in the position to share the same view of the world as his family and

friends. He was used to being in an environment where it was only the strong survive.

Their notions of love, the value of a respectable job, and a belief in God seem to him

petty, complicated, and meaningless (Meyer 194). Krebs finds it impossible to fit in

where he left off. His interactions show that home does not mean the same to him as it

does to others in his town. Miss Emily never tried to keep up with her changing

community. Therefore, time plays a major role as a symbol in Faulkner?s short story.

Miss Emily was a stubborn old woman set in her ways who was content in living in her

?eyesore among eyesores.? Her home was out of place because she never updated the

outside nor the inside. Time not only played a role in the appearance of her home, but

also in some of her actions. She never married at the appropriate age. She went through

the majority, if not all, of her life single. During her time those actions were unheard.

Time can also be related to the decaying bodies in her home. Miss Emily?s attitude and

actions did not change with time. She continued to live the same lifestyle until her death.

Symbols offer a chance to look deeply into the character and explore their lives.

The major elements of setting are the time, place, and social environment that

frame the characters (Meyer 137). Miss Emily was regarded as a ?fallen monument,? as

old-fashioned and peculiar as the ?stubborn and coquettish decay? of her house (Meyer

138). Neither she nor her house fits into the modern changes that are paving and

transforming the town (Meyer 138). The social environment is relevant to the overall

purpose of the story and the character development. The changes in Miss Emily?s

southern town serve as a foil for her tenacious hold on a lost past (Meyer 138). Miss

Emily did not want to change with the southern town. She was constantly struggling to

keep hold of her past even though others questioned her actions. The setting enlarges the

meaning of Miss Emily?s actions (Meyer 138). The social context is important because it

explores the conflicts Faulkner associated with the changing South (Meyer 138). Krebs

experiences two settings throughout the story. His life pretty much starts off as frivolous

as he finds his town to be when he returns from war. Hemingway places him in a home

that has rules and expectations. This home also expects him to be the same as he was

before he left for the war. They do not seem to appreciate or be sympathetic to everything

he experienced when he was away. His mother and others pushing him into things that he

obviously is not ready to do, only push him into a deeper state of solitude. This town is

expecting too much from Krebs which shows their lack of concern for what could be a

potentially dangerous situation. By placing Krebs in this environment allows the reader

to feel the detachment that Krebs feels.

Characters are essential to a story and without them ?A Rose for Emily? would be

little more than a faded history of a sleepy town in the South (Meyer 94). Hemingway

and Faulkner gave the illusion that Miss Emily and Krebs were real people. Through

diction it was easy to visualize these characters interactions with others. Krebs and Miss

Emily were both characters who rarely spoke to others. Diction also allowed Miss Emily

to be compared with her home. Simple diction showed that Krebs was a simple character

who was experiencing shell shock. Symbolism expressed by Hemingway opened up a

meaning to the title of the story. Krebs home was uninviting and did not represent the

typical home. He felt that it was cold and dead. Cold and dead being words that are often

associated with a soldier. His home pushed him further than the war physically had him.

Time was a major symbol in ?A Rose for Emily.? Miss Emily refused to conform and

change with time. Without a setting the characters would not have a place to act. The

changes of the Southern town caused problems for Miss Emily. Her character would not

have been interesting in any other setting. She had to battle the thoughts and opinions of

the changing Southerners. Krebs setting is pulling him and trying to force him back in

place. After evaluating the author?s diction, use of symbolism, and setting in the short

stories it is easier to define Miss Emily and Kreb?s character type. Miss Emily and Krebs

are round characters. They display inconsistencies and internal conflicts found in most

real people (Meyer 1586). These characters are fully developed, and therefore harder to

summarize (Meyer 1586).

Meyer, Michael. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. 5th ed. Bedford/St.

Martin?s. 2000

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