In "A Rose for Emily, how would you characterize the attitudes of the townspeople toward Emily?

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gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The attitude the townspeople have towards Emily is mixed and shifts over time.

As you see in the opening lines, the town reacted to her death with "respectful affection" but for a monument that fell. So, start there: respect, affection, but also a sense of a period ending. That means they feel like they've moved past her. The sense of having changed time periods is also visible in the tax notice. Her family used to be so important to the town that they excused her taxes. Now, she's asked to pay again.

Soon after, we're told they are simply curious. Think of how Miss Emily acted after other people died, and how long it has been since anyone else had been in the family house, and you'll see why they might be curious. Given how strangely she asked, you could also say they see her as a curiosity, almost an oddity.

At other points, like when she buys poison, you can see her overwhelm the shop keeper with her presence.

Finally, think of how they feel at the end, when they find the body: repulsed.

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A Rose for Emily

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