In "A Rose for Emily," explain how the Grierson house and Emily’s appearance reflect the family's changing fortunes of the years.  

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the days of Mr. Grierson's life, the Grierson house was respledent in its glory, which was left over from life in the South before the Civil War. There were cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies to greet callers, though no gentlemen callers were good enough for Emily, who was a "slender figure in white" in the height of fashion. At this period, the Grierson house and Emily appearance represent a snapshot of the family's still prosperous fortunes in the era of the Civil War, the ear in which Emily is born.

After Emily's father dies, Emily is strapped in debt and she declines is appearance, first with hair cut short, making her look like a boy, then to "plumpness in another [but] obesity in her" on on in decline until her death. The Grierson house showed the lack of wealth. When the City representatives called on Emily to collect the city taxes, they noticed that the "leather was cracked" and "a faint dust" of disuse rose when they sat down. Emily's appearance and the house's inner and outer appearance confirm Emily's decline in fortunes and foreshadow her inevitable end in death.

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A Rose for Emily

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