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The delay in breaking down the door to Miss Emily's upstairs bedroom was primarily a matter of respect for the recently departed. Most religions observe a period of mourning for the dead, and discovering what was behind the bedroom door was primarily a matter of curiosity, so it is not too surprising that in order to appear properly pious "They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it." The delay is just one of the many examples found of the slow-moving nature of the Deep South and how the older generations were wary of change. As for Miss Emily, she had long been a "hereditary obligation upon the town," yet the people of Jefferson always delayed in dealing with her problems--the unpaid taxes, the "smell," her public romancing of Homer Barron, and his later disappearance. The fact that authorities had never searched Miss Emily's house in the first place reveals the importance of the old Southern virtue of chivalry: The bedroom had never been searched because it would have been highly improper for any man to enter a single woman's boudoir without her permission. Such traditions died slowly in Jefferson.
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