In the short story "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, Emily Grierson is a member of a faded aristocratic southern family. Her family was once great, and the town still treats her with a sense of deference because of her family's history. The townspeople are also curious about her and her mysterious house. The story begins,
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years.
The men treat her with the courtesy and deference one might pay to a relic of an earlier age or a once-great institution, such as the declining southern gentility. The women are mainly interested in seeing what her house looks like, as few people have entered it in years.
Out of a sense of respect for her social status, the town does not ask Emily to pay taxes. "Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town." She becomes a responsibility of the town, out of a sense of deference for her ancestors. When a strange, strong, and horrid smell starts coming from her house, the town does not do much about it. Instead, they send workers to sprinkle lime around the foundation of the house in the hope the smell will go away.
The town feels sorry for Emily because many years before, she had fallen in love with a Yankee named Homer Barron, who was working on a construction crew in town. Eventually, he disappears, and Emily is left as a pauper in the disintegrating house that had belonged to her family. It is this sense of pity that enables Emily to buy arsenic, a poison, from a druggist in town. It is only after she dies that the town finds out that she has killed Homer and that his skeleton has long rested on Emily's bed.