In “A Rose for Emily,” why was it difficult for Miss Emily to meet suitable men in her youth?

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mazie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the narrator of Faulkner’s story does not reveal much information about Miss Emily as a young girl, there are several hints that indicate that finding the right beau would have been a challenge. First and foremost is the looming presence of the overbearing father who raised her alone. Although she had some relatives in Alabama, her father had feuded with them and communication had been cut off, leaving him to be young Emily’s sole parental figure. There is also her social status to consider: the Griersons were one of the best families in her generation, and it was often thought that no boy would be quite good enough to be her suitor.

In addition, reports of a great-aunt’s insanity had filtered into town. Amidst these rumors that insanity ran in the family, it is possible that any potential suitor who deemed himself worthy of Miss Emily's hand might shy away from becoming involved with a family considered “tainted.” A final consideration would be her finances: at the time of her father’s death, it became known that she was a pauper. It is likely that their financial situation had been dwindling for some time, a factor that would certainly affect the younger Emily’s prospects for a good marriage.

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A Rose for Emily

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