Analyze the treatment of societal values in “A Rose for Emily.” Does “A Rose for Emily” ultimately affirm the values of Jefferson society? Does the story describe them objectively and noncommittally, treat them ironically or critically, nostalgically, or with some combination of these? Do we as the reader need to distinguish between “the story” (i.e., Faulkner, or even the reader) and the narrative voice? Is the reader obliged to evaluate the narrator’s values and those of the society he represents? If so, how?  

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There does appear to be a discrepancy between the values of the people in the town and Faulkner's views. Some of the passages describing Jefferson values are quite satirical, such as when the former mayor Colonel Sartoris is described as "he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should...

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There does appear to be a discrepancy between the values of the people in the town and Faulkner's views. Some of the passages describing Jefferson values are quite satirical, such as when the former mayor Colonel Sartoris is described as "he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron."

The people of the town don't even seem to remember Emily—and by extension, the Old South she represents—with much love. People viewed the Griersons as snobs, though they did pity Emily, who was dominated by her father. They do not dislike her, and they perceive her with the limited but adequate reverence younger people would give to an established part of the town's history. Her death inspires more curiosity than grief.

However, Faulkner does mock how no one wanted to offend Emily while she was alive. The townspeople do not arrest her for refusing to pay her taxes, even though she was never given an exemption, as she so claims. When the bad smell emerges from her home, no one wants to confront her about it—even though the smell is from the rotting corpse of Emily's murdered victim, her lover Homer. They sprinkle lime in her cellar, content that the smell has gone away and not bothering with examining the cause.

So what does all this say about the values of Jefferson's townspeople? While they may not adhere strictly to the values of the Old South, represented by Emily Grierson, they do still hold these outmoded values with enough reverence to allow her to break actual laws and literally get away with murder. This can be viewed as satirical and suggests that Faulkner is criticizing these skewed values.

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