Why did Emily not receive support from the town in William Falkner's "A Rose for Emily"?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The town in "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner is an interesting mix of the old and the new generations. While people like Miss Emily and her father cling to the ways of the Old South, the newer generation thinks and acts differently.

Miss Emily was raised by her father to be a genteel woman, someone who does not really believe the rules of society were meant for her. Her father was old-fashioned enough to frighten away all his daughter's suitors with the threat of a bullwhip because none of them were good enough for Miss Emily. When the taxes on the house must be paid, Miss Emily simply refuses to do so because a prior "arrangement" took care of everything for her. People are rather intimidated by Miss Emily's imperious manner and are secretly happy when she turns thirty years old and still has not married.

When her father dies, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At least they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less.

Miss Emily does not care one bit for anyone in the town, and she makes it perfectly clear that she needs none of them for anything. Of course the townspeople can sense this, which makes it difficult for Miss Emily to endear herself to them even in her old age and pitiable state after Homer Barron seemed to have jilted her. 

Miss Emily does not have to pay her taxes like everyone else, nor does she think she has to obey any of the rules and regulations of the town. Eventually the townspeople come to pity Miss Emily, but that is the only thing they have to offer her. 

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A Rose for Emily

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