In "A Rose for Emily," why does the minister's wife send for Miss Emily's relations?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Homer Barron started going about with Miss Emily, they did not court according to acceptable social practices of the day. Emily and Homer Barron rode around town in his buggy unchaperoned. This was evidently considered inappropriate. The buggy was "glittering," and Homer wore his hat cocked and smoked a cigar while holding the reins and horse whip in his yellow-gloved hand. For her part, Miss Emily held her head high during these Sunday afternoon buggy rides. The ladies of the town thought that Miss Emily's flaunting of social custom was a bad example for the young people of the town. Perhaps seeing a single young woman who had no man in authority over her riding about freely with a man from the North, whose family no one knew, might give the young women and the young men the idea that they could also ride about the town unchaperoned and that women didn't need a male relative to oversee their social activities. 

Although the men of the town didn't want to make a big deal of it, the womenfolk pressured the Baptist minister to call on Miss Emily to convey their concerns. The minister would never say what had happened during that visit, but after that his wife contacted Miss Emily's cousins in Alabama. Although the minister didn't tell the women of the town how the conversation with Emily had gone, there is a chance he told his wife about the way Miss Emily was living. He may have seen things inside her home that disturbed him, or he may have picked up signs of mental illness in Emily. The fact that he refused to go back again suggests either that he was treated rudely or that he saw something disturbing--or both. When it was obvious that Miss Emily would not respond to the concerns of the townspeople as delivered through the minister, the minister's wife must have thought that the relatives should be made aware of what was going on. Whatever she said to them was effective; the two cousins shortly arrived in town to stay with Miss Emily.

podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The wife of the Baptist minister sends for Miss Emily's Alabama cousins because she is worried that Emily is setting a "bad example" for the young people of the town. Emily has been passing time in her home with Homer Barron behind closed doors, and they are not married. After the ladies of the town force the minister to confront Miss Emily about her lifestyle, he refuses to discuss what happened in the meeting and refuses to go back to the Grierson home. When Emily and Homer continue to be seen together in town, the minister's wife decides she must enlist the help of Emily's family and writes to the cousins.

nipstudent | Student

I was looking for what other people had to say about "A Rose for Emily" and when I read the response to your question I thought, "hmmmm".  I re-looked at this passage and I would like to mention that just before the minister's wife urges her husband to go see Emily they are talking about how Emily may kill herself and how Homer is not "the marrying type" as he "liked men".  I am not necessarily suggesting that he was a homosexual, however, I am suggesting that what the townspeople seemed worried about was not their relationship, but that Emily may kill herself, and THAT would be a bad example to the young people.  Just a thought...

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A Rose for Emily

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