Emily’s father is the reason she never married, so she has to cling to him as the only thing she has left.
Emily led a secluded life, thanks to the overbearing and larger-than-life personality of her father. She was wholly dependent on him, and worshipped him. He was the center of the town, in her eyes—its patriarch. The town needed him.
Unfortunately, her father never allowed her to have friends. She did not have gentlemen callers. Her father would chase them away with a horsewhip. So she remained alone.
When he died, she had no friends or beaus. Her isolation led her to part with reality, at least publicly. The town understood why she did not want to admit her father was dead or let them take him away.
We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away.
Her father’s death and her denial of it, and insistence on keeping the body, foreshadows the appearance of the body in her bed at the end of the story. When her boyfriend Homer died, she kept his body. Emily poisoned him in order to keep him close forever.