In what way is Emily a monument and what does she represent in "A Rose for Emily"?  How is she made into a symbol?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    The venerable old Miss Emily Grierson is referred to as "a fallen monument" in the first sentence of William Faulkner's short story, "A Rose for Emily."

When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house.

    "Curiosity" was one of the reasons that Emily was so honored by her townspeople. She was such an anomaly that everyone had an opinion about her. The fact that she came from a well-known family was another reason for her status, and her other peculiarities--such as her high-handedness, social aloofness, and the mysterious incidents concerning Homer and her father's death--all assisted in making her larger than life: a living shrine of Jefferson.
    Her fall (or downfall) can be symbolized by many other actions and unfortunate events that befell her: her father's financial collapse, his tight rein on Emily during her youth, Homer's refusal to marry her, and her continued spinsterhood being just a few. The final disgrace was, of course, the unexpected find in her upstairs bedroom following her death, and the unparalelled gossip that must have followed.
    Miss Emily represents the old guard of Jefferson from the days of post-Civil War Reconstruction. Her death marks another end to the links of the past, when social status was a far more important aspect of Southern culture. The special treatment that she received--remitted taxes, covering up "the smell," etc.--right up until the time of her death was reserved for relics of past ages.

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A Rose for Emily

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