Edited by John Douthwaite, Daniela Francesca Virdis and Elisabetta Zurru
[Linguistic Approaches to Literature 28] 2017
► pp. 153–189
Chapter 9. A social landscape
Form and style in an Edith Wharton short story
The beginning of Edith Wharton’s short story “The day of the funeral” rightly lays claim to being one of the most powerful openings in the genre. The first two paragraphs (139 words) foreshadow the content and tone of the entire story, a critique of patriarchal society. They also exemplify the richly implicational mode of writing employed by Wharton, displaying the myriad of foregrounding devices the author uses to achieve her goals, one major objective being that of positioning the reader to evaluate negatively the main (male) character, the ‘representative’ of the callous male world portrayed by the story. A close reading of the first two paragraphs is offered to illustrate these points.