Faulkner's story is infused with a sense of regret and human callousness. From the opening lines and throughout the story, the actions of the town are presented as a whole, evidence by the repeated use of the pronouns "we" and "our": "Our whole town went to the funeral,"; "So the next day we all said she would kill herself."
The town acts callously when the refuse to treat Emily as a person in need of companionship and understanding. She has lived her entire life in relative isolation; no one really attempts to befriend her. They watch and wait when she breaks up with her one and only beau, Homer, hoping for "a public blowing off."
The regret is present throughout but not clearly realized until the very end, when those who come to her home out of curiosity find Homer's corpse, the indentation of Emily's head on the pillow, and a single strand of her grey hair lying on the case. With this knowledge, the mood of the whole piece comes sharply into focus; only now do the townsfolk fully understand how their lack of caring has played out in a human life.