William Faulkner used the setting he knew best when he wrote "A Rose for Emily." He was a native born Mississippian, and he lived most of his life in the college town of Oxford. The story could never have succeeded had it been placed somewhere outside of Dixie, since one of the major themes is that of the Decline of the Deep South. Emily was a proud Southerner from an aristocratic Mississippi family, unwilling to change as the world around her progressed into the 20th century. A relic of the Jefferson's past, she symbolizes the ways of the ante-bellum South before the area's defeat and subjugation following the Civil War. Her affair with Homer Barron, a Yankee laborer, would have not turned heads south of the Mason-Dixon line; but in Jefferson, it was cause for gossip and speculation about her mental state. The old house in which she lives is another symbol of the deterioration of the old values of older times. Faulkner knew the area of which he wrote, and he derived many of his colorful characters from real people he had known.