How did the neighbors treat Emily in "A Rose for Emily"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The neighbourhood, which interestingly in this story acts as a kind of communal narrator, treats Miss Emily with a range of different responses in this masterful Southern Gothic classic by Faulkner. She is clearly the topic of much gossip and discussion, but also within that discussion there is a certain amount of respect. Note how the story begins by describing the "respectful affection" that is normally shown for a "fallen monument" that the neighbours express at Miss Emily's death. However, the narrator goes on to tell us how she had been treated and viewed in her lifetime:

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town...

We can almost see Miss Emily therefore as some kind of town "charge" who has been entrusted into the care of the town, ever since Colonel Sartoris remitted her taxes. Going back into the past, however, we see that pity is another emotion that the neighbours expressed towards Miss Emily, especially concerning her tyrannical father, horsewhip in hand, who denies her the happiness of marriage and leaves her in penury. However, clearly she is an oddity as well, as shown by her initial refusal to accept the fact of her father's death.

Thus the neighbours show a range of emotions towards Miss Emily. It is clear she is an institution of the town, and as such, much talked about and gossiped over.

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