Miss Emily Grierson is a symbol of the old South in many ways. She lives in an old house “decorated with cupolas and spires” but now surrounded and threatened by the symbols of modernity, industry, and the North. She is a curious combination of apparent helplessness and innocence, as a Southern belle, and formidable, intimidating arrogance, as a Southern aristocrat. This combination is clearly displayed when the nervous deputation from the Board of Alderman attempts to collect her taxes. Miss Emily does not understand why she has no taxes in Jefferson but then, she has no interest in the matter and, as a member of the of the old Southern ascendancy, she does not need to understand or explain. She dismisses the deputation with haughty contempt.
Her attitude is the same towards everyone, even the Yankee Homer Barron, whose desertion she imperiously decides she will not permit. This is perfectly demonstrated again as she refuses to submit to questioning when buying the poison:
"I want some...
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