Emily Grierson stands out from the other townspeople of Jefferson in her inability and unwillingness (I think both are true) to recognize and respond to change. Whether it is acknowledging her father's death to understanding the nuances of the South's shift from antebellum traditions to post-Civil War progress, Miss Emily...
Emily Grierson stands out from the other townspeople of Jefferson in her inability and unwillingness (I think both are true) to recognize and respond to change. Whether it is acknowledging her father's death to understanding the nuances of the South's shift from antebellum traditions to post-Civil War progress, Miss Emily seems almost intentionally uninformed.
One contrast between Miss Emily and the reality of the rest of Jefferson is the Grierson family house:
a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street"
Though garages and cotton gins have replaced most of the other houses like it and the town is moving on to a more commercial future, Miss Emily's family home lingers, "an eyesore among eyesores," a decaying relic of the traditional plantation aristocracy that the rest of the town is beginning to forget. She won't even put up the metal numbers to add her house to the postal route, a decision that declares her defiant refusal to change with the times.
Another example of this contrast is Miss Emily's fight with the aldermen over her taxes. Another symbol of Southern tradition and chivalry, Colonel Sartoris, has allowed Miss Emily to continue living in her family home without paying taxes after the death of her father, but as local government administration changes over the years, the younger, newer generation has no such sentimental attachment. Miss Emily's insistence that she "ha[s] no taxes in Jefferson," repeated again and again to the varied responses of the aldermen show her complete denial of new ways of operating and the changing world.
A final example of Miss Emily's refusal to acknowledge the change and passage of time is the bridal chamber/crypt of the final scene, where she has laid the body of Homer Barron and where, the iron gray hair suggests, she herself lies, to imagine the way her life might have gone. Miss Emily's choice to live in a morbid fantasy rather than the real world is the ultimate show of her refusal to face reality.