What does the title suggest about the townspeople’s feelings towards Miss Emily? What does she represent to them and how is their attitude ironic?

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ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The title may be more of a reflection of the author's attitude than the townspeople in "A Rose for Emily." When William Faulkner was asked about the significance of the title of the story, he said that the "rose" represented a tribute to Emily. Others have suggested that the rose represents the kind of thing you would put on the coffin of someone who has died, or a beautiful flower that has nasty thorns. However, the attitude of the townspeople towards Emily is apparent in the way they treat her. To them, she is a part of the Old South, a member of a distinguished family who deserves respect. Even though her father left her no money when he died, the town leaders treat give her special consideration. They find a way so she won't have to pay taxes. The entire town ignores the horrible smell coming from Miss Emily's house, Finally, several men sneak up in the middle of the night and put lime around the house to kill the smell. They never suspect Emily of any type of crime. Ironically, this special treatment allows this symbol of respect and civility to literally get away with murder.

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chelanne71 | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Another important aspect is in the language itself of the text it refers to Emily as an idol or stagnant figure like an idol.  It is as if they have a love/hate relationship with her.  On one hand, they see her as odd and proud, but on the other they respect her as the only one who has not given up on his/her ideals and who represents their former southern way of life.  The "rose" for Emily is a tribute to her life, even though it is a perverse one.  The sentence at the end of section four sums up the story and how the town feels about her  "dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse."

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