A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily book cover
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In "A Rose for Emily" what is the relationship between the individual, Miss Emily, and the community?

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teacher2011 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The community seems to be reluctant to confront her or force her to do anything largely because of the role her lineage has played in the town’s history and her defiant nature. One of the most telling examples from the story that reflects this is when the town is plagued by an overwhelming stench coming from Emily’s home. Afraid of confronting a lady of her reputation, town officials decide the best solution is to sneak to her house in the middle of the night to sprinkle lime. In short, the community tiptoes around her and has to come up with unique ways to deal with her, as she is obstinate and unwilling to cooperate.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Miss Emily Grierson is mostly a "curiosity" among the people of Jefferson in William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily." She is a major source of gossip for the citizens of the town, mostly because of Emily's standoffish behavior and her mysterious nature. Emily has few friends, and she seeks none. She treats her few visitors with disrespect and rarely leaves her home. Her one true love, Homer Barron, abandoned her and their marriage plans, leaving Emily to spend the rest of her life alone in her aging home.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Miss Emily is regarded by her community as a fascinating, old celebrity.  She is part of the now extinct "old blood" of the South, of those wealthy families that used to be revered and respected because of the generations of wealth and status that they held. But with the demise of slavery, and the rise of the middle class in America, such reverence for those old families slowly dwindled away, and Miss Emily was the only thing that was left.  She was regared by them as an ancient relic, like something in a museum, to be looked upon and wondered at.  During her younger years, the townspeople followed her about much like a discredited celebrity, hungry for gossip and opportunities to spread rumors and share in her life.  It reminds me of old celebrity have-beens that the paparazzi still follow around simply to report the sordid details of their crumbling lives.  The townspeople had the same sense of judgment too; when our favorite celebrity cheats on their spouse, we are upset, we feel angry, and think they should have behaved better.  The townspeople feel this way about Emily as she starts hanging around Homer Barron; they are curious and judgmental, and even intervene a bit, as far as they can.  And, as the townspeople are the ones narrating this story (it is told, uniquely, from their perspective), we get a good feel for their attitudes and fascination.

Miss Emily doesn't really regard the townspeople at all.  They are not worth her consideration, and when they do occasionally step in to try to disrupt her world, she chases them off, maintaining her isolated and skewed perspective of the world that she lives in, where she remains royalty, and the peons of the earthe are below her.

I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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mkcapen1 | Student

William Faulkner used Miss Emily as a representation of the old South and the changing times.  To the people in the town Miss Emily is a curiosity.  She had once been living high and mighty with the colonel, her father.  She held her nose in the air with a great sense of pride.  After his death the town sees her refusal to allow his body to be taken away.  They begin to feel sorry for her because she is alone and has so little money.

Miss Emily is a unique individual who sees herself above others.  She purchases poison after she learns that Homer is leaving.  She takes it upon her own hands to end his life.  In many ways she eels herself as being above the law.  She is reclusive and independent.  As an individual she is also isolated from others.

The community in general has an adversary as it becomes more modern.  Miss Emily refuses to pay taxes and defies the rules.  She continues to identify herself as being above the townspeople.

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