Emily is a product of her environment. She has suffered at the hand of her overly strict father. No man she dated was good enough for Emily according to her father. He would run the men she dated away, insisting that each one was not good enough for his Emily.
Because her father was too strict, Emily remains single even at thirty. She becomes withdrawn. She isolates herself from others. Then one day, Homer Barron comes into her life. She is seen with him in a horse and buggy on Sunday afternoons. Talk among the people is that they are to be married.
Later in the story, Homer is not seen anymore. The people in the community feel that he has abandoned her. It is only after her death that they learn Emily's horrible secret. They find Homer's rotted corpse upstairs in the honeymoon suite that Emily had prepared many years ago. What is more horrible is that they find a iron-gray strand of Emily's hair on the pillow next to Homer's dead body.
Obviously, Emily lost her sanity somewhere along the way. This could be due to fact that her father would not allow her to have gentleman callers. He was too strict. He forced Emily to become an isolated spinster. No one knows how much she suffered behind closed doors. In her death, Emily's suffering is over:
The funeral is a morbid affair. Soon after Emily is buried, several of the men force the upstairs open. There they find what is evidently the rotten corpse of Homer Barron. Even more grotesque, they find a long strand of iron-gray hair on the pillow next to his remains.