In “A Rose for Emily,” the local community clings to Miss Emily Grierson, seeing her as a link to the past. But in doing so, the townsfolk are entering into a devil's bargain that involves their ignoring the stench of evil that emanates from the old Grierson residence.
In the small Mississippi town of Jefferson, the local community positively venerates Miss Emily Grierson. They see her as the last surviving connection to what they believe to be a gentler, more glorious past, when life was much slower and a good deal less complicated.
So the townsfolk of Jefferson put Miss Emily on a pedestal, treating her as more of a living legend than a person. Among other things, this means that they exempt her from paying property taxes, a rare privilege in this neck of the woods. More disturbingly, it also means that the community turns a blind eye to Miss Emily's numerous eccentricities, causing them to miss the rotting corpse of a former lover in her house.
Faulkner uses the community of this fictitious Mississippi town to highlight what he sees as the backwardness of the South. This part of the world is presented to us through the townsfolk of Jefferson as a place that's irredeemably stuck in the past, desperate to cling on to anything that reminds them of a more "gracious" time.