In "A Rose for Emily," how does the town's attitude toward Miss Emily change with the times?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Faulkner's story is unusual and fascinating in several respects, and one of them concerns his treatment of the people of Jefferson. They are treated not as individuals but as a group: the town. The story's unnamed narrator speaks for "the town," and "the town" actually becomes a character in the story. As such, the town's attitude toward Miss Emily exists as a group opinion, and it changes throughout her lifetime.

In the beginning, the town often resented Miss Emily because she was one of "the high and mighty Griersons." She was socially superior in Jefferson and was treated as such, often grudgingly. When Emily's father died, and--in her grief and disbelief--she couldn't allow his body to be removed from the house, she became an object of pity.

After she took up with Homer Barron and allowed him to court her publicly, the town was angry and scandalized by her breech of respectable conduct. As the years passed, the town assumed responsibility for Emily; she became their legacy, and they now felt superior to her. At the time of her death, they viewed Emily as a sort of "monument" in Jefferson, respected simply for having lived so long among them.

Also, they viewed her as an object of curiosity. After her funeral, they couldn't wait to go inside her house after all those years and to visit the upstairs bedroom that no one had seen for forty years. After finding Homer's decayed remains in Emily's bedroom, one of their other earlier attitudes was confirmed. Insanity did run in Emily's family after all.

laura1986 | Student

In the beginning of the story the town resented Emily, she was high and mighity and that is all they could see, by the end of the story they realized that there was more to her and that she was a different person then they all had thought.

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A Rose for Emily

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