In the story "A Rose for Emily" it says "We were glad Miss Emily was getting married because the two female cousins were even more Grierson...... than Miss Emily had ever been."  What does this...

In the story "A Rose for Emily" it says "We were glad Miss Emily was getting married because the two female cousins were even more Grierson...

... than Miss Emily had ever been."  What does this quote show about how the townspeople felt about the two female cousins?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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According to the narration of "A Rose for Emily," the townspeople viewed Miss Grierson as a haughty snob who thought a little too highly of herself. But they also felt pity for her as well. There was insanity in the family, and they knew Emily may have also been tainted by this family curse. The two cousins were summoned by the minister's wife in order to try and maintain some decorum to the family name, since Emily was not only courting a Yankee but also doing so in public on Sundays and without a proper escort--all acts considered taboo in the highly conservative Jefferson. Although little else is mentioned about the Grierson cousins, we can only assume that they were even more exaggerated versions of Miss Emily herself, and Emily must have been seen in a better light with Jeffersonians after they had gotten to know the cousins.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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One important theme of this story is the social class difference between the elite of the town, like Emily Gierson and her family, in comparison to pretty much everyone else.  Miss Emily comes from an upper class family and lives on "what was once our most august street."  She is also of the older generation where class distinctions where more strict and more respected.  Miss Emily is treated differently than many other people in the town may have been treated just because of who she is and who her father was.  For this reason, the town council remit her taxes after her father dies, but the next generation of aldermen who don't put as much stock in social classes try to get her to pay those taxes.  She still lives in her own world where her name means something, and she vanquishes them from her home and never does acknowledge the taxes bills that arrive each year.  The respect and deference that she commands comes from her understanding of who she is in this society -- she is a Grierson!  That is why the druggist gives her the poison without her stating why she needs it.  That is way the men sprinkle the lime around her house without ever determining the cause of the stench.  That is why they don't insist she have postal numbers put up on her house. 

The Grierson cousins are probably of the same arrogant attitude.  There are no details in the story, but from the line you quoted, it is to be inferred that they are elitist snobs who think and act as if they are better than everyone else.  If Miss Emily acts in a way that intimidates those around her, the cousins probably do as well.  It sounds like they may actually be worse!  The townspeople are not big supporters of Miss Emily.  They think she is odd, aloof, and arrogant, but the narrator tells us that the townspeople were kind of in Miss Emily's corner here.  Miss Emily didn't want her relatives there to "keep an eye on her" in regards to her relationship with Homer, so now that they appear to be acting responsibly and getting married, everyone -- the townspeople and Miss Emily -- will be happily rid of the cousins who will no longer have a purpose to be in town.  The cousins' presence in the story helps to illustrate the theme of the class distinctions in the South at the turn of the 20th century.

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