In "A Rose for Emily," comment on what the neighbours complain about and the response of Judge Stevens.

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This part of this excellent Southern Gothic tale comes in the second section. The passage refers to the increasing isolation of Miss Emily after her beau left her, and the way that she is left alone in her house with nobody but her Negro servant. Thus it is that when a "smell" develops the neighbours are hardly surprised, as they comment that a man such as her servant would never know how to keep a kitchen properly. However, note how Judge Stevens puts off any intervention in this matter:

"It's probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. I'll speak to him about it."

What is interesting is the way that Miss Emily constructs around herself an aura of impenetrability and an untouchable nature that causes the society of which she is a part to remain distant and aloof from her. This, of course, increases the mystery of the story as we share the intense and ravenous curiousity of her neighbours as they wonder and speculate about her character, actions and motives, but also arguably shows how the neighbours saw her as an object of curiosity alone and not as another human being who needed help, consolation and comfort.

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

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Ah, the smell! It is just one of the mysteries that is eventually revealed at the end of William Faulkner's Southern Gothic masterpiece, "A Rose for Emily." The story's main character, the spinster Miss Emily Grierson, has recently been deserted by her Yankee beau, Homer Barron. Instead of marrying her, as much of Jefferson assumes, Homer has left town. Shortly afterward, a "smell" develops around the Grierson home. It gets so bad that several citizens decide to take matters into their own hands; they refuse to question Miss Emily about it, thinking it would be ill-mannered to do so. Presuming that the stench comes from a dead rat or other animal, the men sprinkle lime around the edges of the house at night. Eventually, the smell goes away. Only at the end of the story does the reader find out the true cause of the "smell."

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