Is Emily Grierson in 'A Rose for Emily' worthy of a tribute?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We are only given the perspective of the townspeople to understand why they might feel she is "worthy of a tribute." The story is told in retrospect, with the narrator speaking for the town, and reflecting on their contributions to her lonely, sad death.

Initially, the narrator recounts, Emily is regarded as "fallen monument." The men sit at her wake in "respectful attention," the women attend "mostly out of curiosity." No one views her loss as very important

We then learn of her status as a "monument" in life. Her special status is due to her father's position as a Southern military hero, not by anything laudable Emily has done herself:

"Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town...Colonel Sartoris, the mayor...remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity."

Emily's status as "other" isolates her. She is resented for her special treatment, which she did not ask for or do anything to maintain.

The people of the town miss all the signs of her loneliness & never realize she is a human being with needs and longings. When they discover her gruesome deed and death, their negligence of a fellow human being finally hits home.

It is for this reason, that is, lack of human kindness, and arguably no other, that Emily Grierson is worthy of a tribute. She deserves that much in death.

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A Rose for Emily

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