Why is the setting of "A Rose for Emily" important?

The setting of "A Rose for Emily" is important because it allows William Faulkner to put forward a critique of contemporary Southern society. The fictitious town of Jefferson, Mississippi, represents the general decay and torpor of Southern society as Faulkner understands it. Though the macabre events of the story may be unusual, the social attitudes that give rise to them most certainly are not.

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In "A Rose for Emily," William Faulkner wants to say something about contemporary Southern society. Therefore, he writes about a small fictitious town in his native Mississippi called Jefferson that allows him to offer up a social criticism of the part of the world he knew so well.

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In "A Rose for Emily," William Faulkner wants to say something about contemporary Southern society. Therefore, he writes about a small fictitious town in his native Mississippi called Jefferson that allows him to offer up a social criticism of the part of the world he knew so well.

The South of the 1930s had seen better days. It had been hit harder than any other region of America by the Great Depression. In the midst of this economic catastrophe, it appeared that the Southern states were in a state of irreversible social, cultural, and economic decline. Such decline is revealed in the life of Jefferson, where there are signs of decay all around—most notably in the Grierson residence, where Miss Emily has spent her whole life.

In that sense, Jefferson is a microcosm of the South. Unable to deal with the present and fearful of what the future may bring, it clings to an idealized past, when the grass was greener and the air so much sweeter. This involves putting Miss Emily, the last surviving link with the past, on a pedestal.

But as subsequent events will show, this turns out to be a disastrous mistake, as it leads to ignoring the presence of real evil in the town. The suggestion here seems to be that in order to move on, the South has to deal with the realities of its troubled past instead of trying to preserve it.

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