In "A Rose for Emily," what can the reader learn about the standards of the town by its setting?

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The fact that Emily 's house, though somewhat run-down and decayed, is the only decent looking building in town speaks volumes about this part of the world. Jefferson is a town in terminal decline, a town that has seen better days. This is why the townsfolk are so keen to...

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The fact that Emily's house, though somewhat run-down and decayed, is the only decent looking building in town speaks volumes about this part of the world. Jefferson is a town in terminal decline, a town that has seen better days. This is why the townsfolk are so keen to hang on to anything which reminds them of those days, of the town's supposedly glorious, gracious past.

This attitude of misplaced nostalgia helps to explain why Miss Emily gets a pass despite her strange, eccentric behavior, and why she doesn't have to pay any local property taxes despite owning the largest house in town. The town's moral standards, such as they are, constitute an ideal—almost a parody—of gracious Southern living, the kind that was supposed to be the norm in bygone days of yore.

But when this high-minded ideal collides with the sordid reality of what Miss Emily's been up to in that old, decaying house all these years, the town's rotten heart is exposed in all its foul darkness. So long as Miss Emily was alive, the pretense of moral propriety could be maintained. But not anymore. For with the horrifying revelation of Miss Emily's unusual living arrangements comes a no less shocking exposé of the town's previously unacknowledged double standards.

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In "A Rose for Emily," the setting of the town says much about the standards of the people who live there.  The second paragraph of the story speaks to the changes that have occurred in the physical appearance and layout of the town.  Miss Emily's house is one dating back to the 1870s, and it is adorned with "cupolas and squires and scrolled balconies."  The house rests on town's "most select street."  However, the rest of the town has been taken over by garages and cotton gins, suggesting that the town has become a more working class area than it once was.  But Miss Emily's house remains a symbol of "stubborn and coquettish decay" amid the changes that have occurred around her.  So, it is likely that the town's values have also changed because the socio-economic status of the people who live there is now different.  For example, the townspeople all take seriously the payment of their taxes, while Miss Emily believes that she should remain exempt from paying based on a deal that her father made with a previous mayor.

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