If the story "A Rose for Emily" begins when things are about to go wrong, what is the real beginning of the story?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily is a product of her environment.  An argument could be made that the beginning of the story is when she is born.  From this moment, she is subject to the expectations of her father and the town.  She learns how to behave from their behavior towards her.  She becomes isolated and needs to find companionship because of their mistreatment.  She becomes so scared of losing that companionship that she resorts to murder.  Although she has free will, she is unable to escape the internal conflicts created by her family and town.

However, the behavior of those people can be attributed to the history of the South.  Faulkner spends significant time explaining the town and how it has changed.  He makes the narrator an unidentified member of the town, in essence making it the town itself.  The town is changing, but the people are not so quick to change.  The continue to respect Miss Emily and her family, even when the smell coming from the house is unbearable.  The respect goes so far as to swear off the taxes for the Grierson family.  So, if Emily is a product of her environment, then you would have to find the beginning of that environment to find the real beginning of the story.