One thing I have never understood is why dashes are used in writing. I understand that a dash can be used to signify an abrupt end in speech where a character may be interrupted. But what about the other times? Here is an example from The Wild Palms by W. Faulkner: He seemed to them: the empty years in which his youth had vanished-the years for wild oats and for daring, for the passionate tragic ephemeral loves of adolescence, the girl- and boy-white, the wild importunate fumbling flesh . . . The quote goes on and on. I can type it all if you need it. But why does he use the dashes in this sentence? Why the dash after "vanish" and the next dash after "girl?" Also, why is it better in some cases to use a dash rather than start a new sentence? Thanks.