How would you characterize Emily's relationship with the town, and how does the town's relationship with Emily change as time passes?

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pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The town in "A Rose for Emily" are both respectful and curious about Miss Emily Grierson.  From the beginning, the reader knows that Miss Emily has died and that the men of the town attended her funeral out of respect while the women attended just to see the inside of her house.  This begins the story of a town who is intrigued by it's inhabitant, without really knowing why.

Details of Miss Emily's life that are unknown are simply guessed at and discussed in the parlors of her neighbors.  The town knows that she doesn't pay taxes, but they do not know why.  They only know the former mayor, Colonel Sartoris, arranged it with her, and the new mayor was shown out when he questioned her. Miss Emily tells the group “Colonel Sartoris explained it to me, " even though he had been dead for 10 years.

The town's respect of Miss Emily is shown when no one mentions the odd smell coming from her house.  Instead, the men sneak onto her property an spread lime, which disposes of the smell.  The town would not have been so careful of her feelings if they did not care.

The town's fascination with Miss Emily continues when her father dies.  Upon hearing that he only left her the house, they rejoice that she may now be poor, so the visit her house to investigate her sadness.  Unfortunately, she answers the door meeting “them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face.”

Miss Emily was a celebrity of her day.  The town discussed her life the way we discuss actors.  They speculated on her love life, imagined the inside of her house, and respected her enough to not say anything to her face about it.  As time passes, she becomes a legend to the people of the town who question her lifestyle and choices, but who also wait until her death to investigate inside her house.

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A Rose for Emily

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