One could argue that Miss Emily Grierson's father and the passing of time are the antagonists in Faulkner's classic short story "A Rose for Emily." Growing up, Emily suffered under her father's oppressive, authoritative guardianship and was not allowed to date the local men, because her father believed that they were not good enough for her. Emily's father had a traumatic influence on her, which negatively affected her mental state and her ability to carry on healthy relationships as an adult. The passing of time is another antagonist in the short story. Miss Emily symbolically represents the Old South, and she is not able to accept how time has altered her community and culture. Miss Emily is unable to adapt to the changing ways of life and remains secluded in her outdated home. The newer generation of Jeffersonians views Emily Grierson as an annoyance, and they demonstrate a lack of respect toward her. One can argue that Miss Emily's inability to adapt to the changing culture of the South contributes to her demise.
It is significant that Homer Barron is a Northerner who works for a construction company hired to pave sidewalks in Southern towns. Homer Barron symbolically represents Northern industrial businesses, which expanded into the South following the Civil War. The members of the New South accept Homer Barron into their community, while the older members of Jefferson disagree with him courting Miss Emily. They view Homer as being beneath Miss Emily; they even petition her cousins to intervene in their relationship. Miss Emily's relationship with Homer Barron symbolically represents the dysfunctional, futile relationship between the Old South and the North, which resulted in the Civil War.