Miss Emily was a slave to tradition, and she died a relic, a testimony to the disappearing ways of the Old South. Examples include:
- Miss Emily has remained living in the same old house in which she grew up; once a centerpiece of the town, it now had "garages and cotton gins" surrounding it.
- She remained a "hereditary obligation" to the town after her taxes were forever remitted by the old mayor, Colonel Sartoris; knowing Emily would not accept charity, he concocted a tale that claimed it was the city's way of repaying a loan to her father.
- Though she had little or no money, she still maintained a black manservant to wait upon her.
- The townspeople put up with her eccentricities, since they knew that there was "insanity in the family."
- Emily went against local traditions by romancing the Yankee, Homer Barron.
- She flaunted social protocol by appearing in public on a Sunday with Homer--and without an escort.
- She gave china-painting lessons--long out of vogue--to the daughters and grand-daughters of her father's old acquaintances.