I have been asked this question and I am finding it difficult to pinpoint an answer. I presume it must be c) or e) but I cannot decide. An explanation of the correct choice would be very helpful.

"She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water...." The rhetorical purpose of this description is to compare Miss Emily with

a) a large aquatic creature.

b) a dead body submerged in formaldehyde.

c) an obese corpse.

d) a decomposing fish.

e) a drowning victim.

  • 1
    Why do you presume c or e? An explanation of how you chose these two would be very helpful.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


This quote is from his short story A Rose For Emily. The full quote is:

"She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue".

It's important to give the whole sentence, because the final words "of that pallid hue" give the answer: it's e) a drowning victim. None of the others are likely to be pale.

The "motionless" nature of the water indicates the static, unchanging nature of the life she lived, as does the comparison to a "long submerged" corpse. Her inability to change has, in effect, rendered her already dead.

The sentence is rhetorical because in the context of the sentence, Miss Emily is still alive. Comparing her with a corpse is, therefore, a rhetorical device.

The choice of metaphor is also instructive. Death and decay are the central themes of A Rose For Emily. They recur as a rhetorical device throughout the text.


I don't see this as rhetorical. It is a description of how bodies decompose in water.

A body that is left in water will start to decompose, gases develop inside the body and force the skin outwards. The skin of the bloated body becomes pallid and stretched.

I have seen a few times farm animals that have fallen into water and drowned. Their bloated bodies are not a pleasant sight.

  • 1
    Isn't it the fact that the description is being applied to living person that makes it rhetorical?
    – Spagirl
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 15:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.