In "A Rose for Emily," how is Miss Emily's house symbolic?

In “A Rose for Emily,” Miss Emily's house is symbolic in a number of ways. First of all, it represents a historical link with a supposedly more graceful past. More ominously, it represents Emily's mental decline, as this is the place where Homer Barron's corpse has been festering for years.

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Emily Grierson's house is an outward representation of its mistress. Emily is described early in the story as being almost like a "monument" to a time which is now in the past. Her house is one of the great antebellum Southern houses that belong to a time when the town was wealthy, and Emily's family was extremely important and well-to-do.

Emily still believes that she is part of that atmosphere. She refuses to admit that things have changed. Just as the old beautiful house crumbles and its paint peels, so Emily is becoming older, grayer, and more insignificant, but she continues to insist that she does not have to pay taxes in Jefferson and to behave as if she is a member of an important ruling class. She cannot accept that the ruling class no longer exists in the same way and that the laws are not different for her.

Just as Emily is a living memorial to a time gone by, then, the house she lives in is also a reminder of that time. The pair of them are slowly decaying together: both...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on September 15, 2020