In "A Rose for Emily", is Emily white or black?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily is part of the white establishment. This can be inferred by the fact that Colonel Sartois, who had issued an obvious racist edict that " no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron--," would say that Miss Emily did not owe taxes. She is also served by a "old Negro" who takes off the minute the townspeople are about to discover Emily's "secret". She is also called a "fallen monument" in a Southern town, which would infer she is white.

bhogan | Student

Although Faulkner does not tell us, it is my assumption that she is white.  We know directly from the text that Emily was born in the 1800's because it was in 1894 that Colonel Sartoris excused her from paying taxes.  In that time period it would have been highly unlikely for a black woman in the South to be living in a home that was, when she was young, in an aristocratic neighborhood or have a manservant.

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A Rose for Emily

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