In "A Rose for Emily," why don't the aldermen collect taxes from Emily Grierson?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The aldermen try several times to collect Emily's taxes, finally going in person to see her at home. They don't succeed in collecting them because Emily refuses to pay them. She believes that her taxes are paid in Jefferson because Colonel Sartoris had told her so at the time of her father's death many years before. Sartoris had deceived Emily out of kindness, knowing that she could not afford to pay the taxes and that she would not accept charity. When the aldermen appear in her living room, she tells them to check their records; when the aldermen say there are no records to show her taxes are paid, she tells them to talk to Colonel Sartoris. This they cannot do since he has been dead for almost a decade.

The aldermen do not pursue the issue further. Emily Grierson is an old woman, apparently out of touch with reality. Additionally and very importantly, she is a Grierson. The aldermen are respectful of her and of her family history in Jefferson; they are, in fact, intimidated by her. Southern gentlemen all, they leave immediately when Miss Emily coldly tells Tobe to show them out.


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