The collective town of Jefferson could be considered the antagonist throughout the short story "A Rose for Emily." The citizens of the town view Emily as a peculiar, intriguing individual and do not genuinely seem to care about her. Despite the fact that Homer Barron brings Emily happiness, they disapprove of her relationship and talk behind her back. They feel that Emily is too good for a Northern laborer and even petition a Baptist minister to talk to Emily after she agrees to marry Homer. The newer generation of aldermen also confront Emily about not paying her taxes, and they do not investigate the disappearance of Homer. The town members also sit idly by as Emily struggles with her mental illness. They do not offer her help or support of any kind and choose to watch her from a distance.
If one were to name an antagonist, I think it would have to be the Old Southern Traditional society. Emily, as a member of a family with high social standing, has certain expectations placed on her by society. She is not expected to work, but to marry well and have a family. However, he father prevented her marriage to anyone while he was alive. He leaves he little money and she is no longer young when he dies. Thus, the expectations of the town are really unrealistic. When she takes up with Homer Barron, everyone expects they will marry in spite of his statement that he "likes men." This puts Emily is a real bind. She has no money, a boyfriend who won't marry her and a town who expects her to marry. Yet they provide little support and much judgement about her behavior. Therefore, there is little wonder she took matters into her own hands and lost some of her sanity because no one took the time to approach her on a close level.