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The Impact of Imagery

The use of imagery in a short story has a great deal of effect on the impact of the story. A story with effective imagery will give the reader a clear mental picture of what is happening and enhance what the writer is trying to convey to the reader. William Faulkner exhibits excellent imagery that portrays vivid illustrations in ones mind that enhances, ?A Rose for Emily?. The following paragraphs will demonstrate how Faulkner uses imagery to illustrate descriptive pictures of people, places and things that allow Faulkner to titillate the senses.

?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? (287). Faulkner starts the story off with a mental picture of Emily?s house to be an old Victorian house. It is on a street that is commercializing which makes the house stand out and appear out of place.

A description of Emily discloses her similarity to the house. ?She looked bloated, like a body, long submerged in motionless water, and that of palled hue? (288). Faulkner describes her like this so that the reader may picture a pale, older woman, who seemingly hasn?t done much but eat, having no muscle tone, and clumps of fat more or less clinging to her body. She was sickly old woman. An even closer look at her face reveals ?her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough? (288). This description enhances the mental picture of Emily even more. The overly chubby face, gives the reader a definite mental picture of an old and obese woman.

Faulkner?s description of Homer Barron, Emily?s lover, is less detailed but just as effective. He was ?a Yankee?a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face? (290). The first picture of Homer that would come to mind would probably be a rough and rugged construction worker, with dark skin, somewhat like that of a roofer. This image is somewhat connected with that of the image of Emily?s father.

Another way that Faulkner exhibits imagery, is the odor, coming from Emily?s house, that the neighbors are complaining about. When Judge Stevens said that ?it?s probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard? (289), right away, the smell of rotting flesh comes to mind. Creating a putrid, horrible smell in the reader?s mind. Odor is a very effective use of imagery when an author is trying to convey a character?s feelings of something in the story.

The most detailed mental picture that Faulkner describes in the story would be that of the room in the upstairs of Emily?s house. ?A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie every where upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose?shaded lights, upon the dressing table, upon the delicate array of crystal and the man?s toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay collar and tie, as if they had just been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks? (293). As the neighbors walk in and it is described what they see, an image of maybe a basement would come to mind. Where things are placed and not touched for many years, collecting dust and fading in color. As the room is being described, the reader almost should feel as if he or she is one of the neighbors who just broke down the door. If the reader felt as if he or she was in the story, Faulkner successfully and effectively created imagery.

When the writer successfully creates imagery, the reader should be able to have a clear mental picture of what is happening and feel as if they are looking through the narrator?s eyes. William Faulkner displays excellent imagery which helps the reader better understand the real meaning of the story. Faulkner?s imagery of the people, places, and things in his stories, creates a painting type image, which truly titillates the senses.

1. Barnet, Sylvan. An Introduction to Literature. Eleventh Edition. Longman Inc. New

York, 1997.


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