A Rose for Emily Questions and Answers
by William Faulkner

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What had Colonel Sartoris done for Miss Emily in 1894?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In 1894, Colonel Sartoris, the former mayor of Jefferson, remitted Miss Emily's taxes for the rest of her life after her father passed away. Colonel Sartoris was a gentleman and a figure of the Old South, who revered the Grierson family and showed sympathy for Miss Emily by remitting her taxes. After Miss Emily's father died, Colonel Sartoris knew that she would not be able to pay her taxes so he invented a tale that Miss Emily's father had once loaned money to the town. Colonel Sartoris told Miss Emily that remitting her taxes was the town's way of repaying her family. However, the newer generation of Jeffersonians does not care about Miss Emily's family name or heritage and simply wants her to pay her taxes. Unfortunately, Miss Emily refuses to acknowledge Colonel Sartoris's death and refuses to pay her taxes.

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Colonel Sartoris was the mayor of Jefferson when Emily's father died. The Colonel knew that her father had nothing but the house to leave to Emily, so he invented a story about a loan that Emily's father had made to the town long, long ago that the town had never repaid. In return, Emily's property taxes would be remitted, or forgiven, as long as she lived, "into perpetuity." When Colonel Sartoris passed away and a new generation came into control of city government, the truth about her taxes came out, and Emily was asked to pay.

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