How do the townspeople feel about Emily in "A Rose for Emily"?

The townspeople have strong feelings about Emily. The older generations put her on a pedestal, venerating her as the last surviving link to a supposedly more glorious past. As a consequence, they give her special privileges regarding her property taxes and for the most part conveniently ignore the revolting stench emanating from her house.

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Emily Grierson is highly regarded in the small Southern town of Jefferson. Despite being highly eccentric and standoffish, she's something of a local celebrity on account of her being the last surviving link with a supposedly more graceful and glorious past. In this neck of the woods, the certainties of...

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Emily Grierson is highly regarded in the small Southern town of Jefferson. Despite being highly eccentric and standoffish, she's something of a local celebrity on account of her being the last surviving link with a supposedly more graceful and glorious past. In this neck of the woods, the certainties of the past are contrasted with a much more uncertain present and future. As Emily represents this past, she is treated with reverence and respect by the older townsfolk.

In practical terms, this means that Emily is spared the inconvenience of paying property taxes. This is quite a big deal, as the Grierson residence is one of the largest in town, so Emily will save quite a bit of money. However, the younger townsfolk work tirelessly to try to get her to pay her taxes, contributing to one of the greater disputes and themes of the story, in which old Southern ways clash with pushes for modernization.

More disturbingly, the general esteem in which Emily is held also means that people try to ignore the foul, putrescent stench emanating from her home. If this had been anyone else, inquiries would likely have been made immediately. But as Emily gets a pass for her numerous eccentricities, it's only after her death that the shocking source of this vile smell is finally revealed. In essence, the older townsfolk's feelings toward Emily allow her to get away with murder, quite literally.

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