Miss Emily grew up as privileged member of Jefferson society. Once a part of Southern aristocracy, her father was a wealthy man who owned one of the finest houses in the town, and Emily was brought up as a Southern belle in the ante-bellum style that preceded the Civil War. But by the time of her father's death, the Grierson's money had run out, and the house had become a rundown memory of better times. Although Miss Emily never recognized it, the rest of the town had long since come to the conclusion that
... the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such.
So, as the town and the times changed around her, Miss Emily remained the same, believing that the new laws and ideas that the younger generations embraced did not apply to her. When her father died, she was left alone, and she tried to hold on to him as long as possible, just as she attempted to live unaltered in the slowly changing world of Jefferson. Miss Emily's mental stability must have also begun to deteriorate; after all, mental disease ran in the family.
... old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy...
But the rest of the town
... 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, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.
Homer Barron's refusal to marry her was the last straw for Emily. She had already reduced herself to romancing a Yankee commoner, an outsider liked by most of the men in the town, but who few people believed would settle down with Miss Emily. A sworn bachelor, Homer apparently refused Emily's advances of marriage and, like her father, she chose to "cling to that which had robbed her." Her decision to kill Homer could not have come from a completely sane mind, but Emily never believed that others were equal to her, nor did she believe that laws applied to her. She must have realized that there would be no more engagements, no more gentleman callers, no further chance of matrimony. In Emily's warped mind, Homer would remain with her, even if it was just his dust and bones that remained behind. In the end, Emily proved to be a
"fallen monument... [passing[ from generation to generation--dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil and perverse.