Faulkner juxtaposes the old Southern society represented by Emily with the younger one who must accommodate her eccentricities. A few ways in which he marks the contrast between a world still lost in an antebellum South would be the unusual decorum paid to women. Emily is tolerated as a vestige of the Old South, with families paying to have their daughters learn how to paint tea cups as a means of supplying her with an income. Men of the town find it impossible to suggest to a woman that she or her house stinks (despite what we later learn is the smell of rotting flesh), and they continue the tradition of allowing her to avoid paying her taxes due to an earlier arrangement.
The new society, on the other hand, is somewhat more tolerant of Yankees working among them. Homer, Emily's lover, comes to down to work on a construction project, seemingly a sign of the South growing out of its historical conventions. The younger generation grows impatient with Emily, the noblesse oblige of the world she represents, and the inconvenience her apparent refusal to change (or die) causes.
The story ends, of course, with a gruesome discovery of the grotesque ending Homer experienced. This cements an image of Emily as symbolic of a decadent and morally weakened Southern tradition, perverted in its sense of self and its desires.