Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Interactives
 

What Setting Tells Us

In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the narrator carefully describes the house that Miss Emily lives in. This description helps us picture a decaying Mississippi town in the post-Civil War South. We also learn about Miss Emily's resistance to change.

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.

Later we enter the house itself and, eventually, end up inside one particular room. The physical details of the setting become linked with the values, ideals, and attitudes of that place in different times.

Setting can add an important dimension of meaning, reflecting character and embodying theme.

Notice how the details of the setting provide the clues for solving the murder in "A Jury of Her Peers." As a result, they illuminate the deeper meaning of the story.

[Next: Analyzing Theme]


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