Emily Grierson is a woman, who during her childhood, was kept away from society and as she got older, from male suitors. She lives with her father until he dies. She hides his death, but eventually the town finds out. Emily then has a mysterious illness for quite sometime. She comes out of her grief stricken state and meets a man named Homer Barron. He is in town to do some construction work and make sidewalks for the town.
Emily and Homer are seen around town and the townspeople begin to assume they are involved. Homer tells his friends that he is not the marrying kind. People begin to think the relationship is scandalous. Emily is seen buying male toiletries with Homer's monogram on them, so the town then goes back to talking about the upcoming wedding. Emily is seen going into the pharmacy and buys arsenic, which is sent to her house labeled for rats. Homer has been out of town, but comes back and is seen going into Emily's house and never seen again. Emily becomes a recluse and closes off the top floor of her house. Only her servants are seen going in and out of the house. She lives that way until she is in her 70's. When the authority's go into the house, they break down the door to the upstairs and find the decaying body of Homer. The room had been turned into a shrine for a wedding. There they see the impression on the pillow next to Homer, and they find a strand of gray hair belonging to Emily.
In any story a murderer is considered the antagonist. Obviously Emily is the clear antagonist of the story, but the town can be seen as one as well. The townspeople had a way of gossiping about Emily and what was going on in her life. They had a part in her madness. The sad thing is most small towns are still like this and I am sure there is an Emily just waiting to come out.