In "A Rose for Emily," what are the terms of Emily's father's will?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since there is no mention of Mr. Grierson's will in the story, the reader can only surmise what Miss Emily inherits.

  • Evidently, it must not be any substantial amount of money since the taxes have not been paid upon the house and property. For, when the "next generation" mails her a tax notification, Miss Emily returns it to the post office as she still believes that Colonel Sartoris is taking care of this matter.
  • Another indication that the Grierson estate has not been wealthy is the appearance of the house. After the funeral for Emily, the narrators describe the house :
It was a big, sqarish frame house that had once been white....Only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps--an eyesore among eyesores. 
  • After the Aldermen, who are concerned about the taxes, come to the house which Emily has obviously inherited, they find it dusty and dank.  

When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father.

From this scene the reader can surmise that Emily has little money since there is no housekeeper. Moreover, the patriarchal dominance yet remains as Emily is dressed in black and wears her father's watch with the "thin gold chain descending to her waist and vaishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished told head.

  • The tarnish on the frame of her father behind her and Emily's cane again indicate her fairly impoverished condition. In addition, the watch may also signify that Emily has little else from her father as often "all I received is this watch" is a phrase signifying that one has inherited nothing.
  • In the description of the Alderman's visit, the townspeople mention that Emily has given china painting lessons several years ago. Her having done this may also be an indication that she has no real inheritance. 
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A Rose for Emily

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