In the short story, "A Rose for Emily," discuss an instance of a difference of opinion in shared social values.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two very prominent instances of difference of opinion on values that are shared within society. The first is the difference in shared values reflected by how Emily chooses to associate with Homer. The second is difference is reflected by how Emily views death when death comes to her beloved ones. There are other instances of differences of opinion on values that are supposed to be shared social values, for instance, how Emily thinks about paying city taxes; how Emily continues to represent a by-gone era; how Emily imposes her values upon her man servant, who escapes out the back door at the first opportunity; how Emily differs from her distant family members' opinions concerning her love for Homer.

When Emily meets Homer, she begins to come out into town in a manner quite unlike her usual way. She goes on rides alone with Homer without the benefit of a chaperon, who would insure that their behavior remained moral. The townspeople stand by and watch while wondering how Emily can choose to spend time with such a rough man as Homer, who is far below her social class. The townspeople's opinion is that Emily needs to uphold the shared value of propriety and social distinction, while Emily's opinion is that she should enjoy what little opportunity comes her way in life.

Emily encountered death in her intimate family circle twice in her lifetime. The first death was that of her father who, though thought to be overbearing, was all the world to Emily: She didn't know how to be in or think about the world without him. When he died, she refused to believe it, even going so far as to refusing to giving his body up for burial. The townspeople reflected that her father's death may have left Emily emotionally unstable but that she was not crazy, or so they thought.

The second death was the one that surprises us at the ending of the story, that is the death of Homer. The ending reveals that Emily clung to the opinion exposed by her first encounter with death: She kept the body this time. The difference of opinion on a shared social value is about how to relate to a dead loved one. The townspeople uphold the opinion that when death occurs, an end to the relationship is required, as is a decent burial or cremation of the remains. Emily, on the other hand, upholds the opinion that the relationship can continue and no separation of any sort is needed--the body may remain, despite stench and horror, with its head resting on a pillow at home.

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A Rose for Emily

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