What is Emily's family background in the town and how has her position changed?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As "A Rose for Emily" begins, Miss Emily is described as a "fallen monument" (1). This tells the reader that at some point in the past, she and her family held a high status in the town and that their high status is long gone.  The evidence of both is strewn throughout the story.

The home in which Miss Emily has lived, apparently all her life, is described as "decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies" (1) on the "most select street" (1) in the town. Her father was clearly a man of wealth, at least wealthy enough for some townspeople to believe the story that he had lent a large sum of money to the town. 

But that wealth is all gone now, and the house is now one of "stubborn and coquettish decay" (1), as is Miss Emily, who cannot afford to pay her taxes, and who stands before the townspeople with a cane "with a tarnished gold head" (1), tarnished, as Miss Emily herself is, old, and obese, and poor. This remains her state throughout the story.  Her house slowly decays around her, and she continues to decay, too, a sad, poor, aging southern belle, who cannot accept that the days of wealth and status are gone. 

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A Rose for Emily

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