Why does the minister's wife send for Miss Emily's relations?A Rose for Emily

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the short story "A Rose For Emily" by William Faulkner, the author shows us how Miss Emily's relatives were sent for. However, it is important to note that it is the women of the town who send for them, the men are not so concerned. It is possible that the social norms were relaxing a bit and that times were changing. The women were more traditional and were more concerned - possibly for the safety of Miss Emily herself. It is also possible that they were not so much interested in exerting pressure on Miss Emily, but on Homer himself which is why he stayed away for a while. Perhaps this eventually worked and when he came back it was to tell her to end the friendship. Unable to let go because of her possessive personality, this could have spurred her to act and resulted in him not seeing the light of day again.

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

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In the William Faulkner short story, "A Rose for Emily," Miss Emily's "blood kin" family were sent for because of her supposedly scandalous behavior in courting the Yankee, Homer
Barron. First the Baptist minister visited Miss Emily; he refused to "divulge what happened during that interview." So, the minister's wife directly contacted her family in Alabama. The townspeople assumed that they would bring Miss Emily to her senses. Homer stayed away during this time, but shortly after the relatives returned home, so did Homer. His visit was short, however, and it proved to be the last anyone saw of him--at least alive, that is. 

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," the minister's wife writes to Emily's relations because Emily is involved in what the townspeople think is a scandalous affair. 

Emily is seen in town being courted, they think, by an outsider and Northerner, Homer Baron.  Homer is not only an outsider, but, the town thinks, is beneath Emily.  He is just a "day laborer."  She is descended from aristocracy, of a sort, at least.  And the town and the minister's wife are trying to stop the affair. 

Paragraph 31 reveals this:

At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, "Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer."  But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige....

But Emily, apparently, does forget her place in society, and continues seeing Homer.  The townspeople then try to stop her.


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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What I get from the story is that the people of the town thought that what was going on between Miss Emily and Homer Barron was improper (how they kept going around together without anyone to accompany them).  Because of that, they got the minister to go talk to her.  When that did not work, the minister's wife sent for some of Miss Emily's relatives to come up and live with her for a while.  In effect, the relatives were chaperones who were there to make sure nothing improper happened.  Here is the passage from the story where we see this stuff going on:

Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people. The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister--Miss Emily's people were Episcopal-- to call upon her. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again. The next Sunday they again drove about the streets, and the following day the minister's wife wrote to Miss Emily's relations in Alabama.

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