Townspeople and EmilyHow do the townspeople regard Emily? Why?
The townspeople are fascinated with Emily. Her family has been prominent in the town, and so Emily has been watched and wondered about her whole life-she has celebrity status.
Emily actually has very little to do with the town, but the town is always scrutinizing her actions when she is spotted. The town feels that she is "an idol in a niche...dear inescapable, impervious, tranquil and perverse".
When Miss Emily shocks them by dating Homer, they are divided in how they react. Some can understand because her father kept suitors away, feeling that they were not good enough for her. Others, are upset, she above all, should never date a commoner, and a Yankee.
In the end, the town excuses her crime-they take care of her until the end.
“Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town,” says the narrator in the third paragraph of the story. In addition, she was a curiosity: someone to talk about, complain about, and perhaps at times worry about, too. She represents a past—a traditional old south—from which the town has advanced but the effects of which still linger. One aspect of that old south is “being a lady,” which Emily was by virtue of class and gender, but she violated the codes of behavior governing that designation. This is why she is such a piece of gossip—and by the time, she gave them plenty to gossip about, especially after they find the dead Homer in her bed.
Initially she was seen as a southern lady, which is one reason her taxes were initially waved. However, as time passes and a new generation of townspeople grow up, they regard Emily as a bit of an oddity. She refuses to adapt and change. They view her as a holder over from an age long gone. This explains why she is both so confounding to them but also why she is so fascinating.