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Summary and Analysis Section 4

New Characters
Miss Emily’s Cousins: At the request of the Baptist minister’s wife, cousins from Alabama arrive and move in with Miss Emily, presumably to help her out.

Summary
After Miss Emily had requested rat poison from the druggist, the town assumed that she was planning her own suicide. The facts of her relationship with Homer Barron, a Northerner, was too great a disgrace in the town’s eyes, and suicide seemed a viable option. Although Miss Emily and Homer were seen regularly on Sunday afternoons, the town was uncertain that Miss Emily would be able to convince Barron, who admitted that he was “not a marrying man,” to marry her, and Miss Emily could not continue with such a public relationship without losing face.

The town was concerned about the example Miss Emily was setting, and it went so far as to send a Baptist minister to meet with her, but to no avail. When Miss Emily ordered a silver toilet set with Barron’s initials, along with a man’s suit, the town became convinced that the two would soon be married. Barron disappeared for three days, long enough for Miss Emily's cousins, who had been called in out of concern for Miss Emily, to leave. The town assumed that upon Barron’s return, the two would wed, but shortly after his reappearance in the town, he disappeared, never to be seen again by anyone.

Once Barron disappeared for the last time, the town saw less and less of Miss Emily, and when she did show herself again, she had grown fat and gray. Except for a period of six or seven years in her forties when she gave china-painting lessons to the children of the town, Miss Emily effectively removed herself from all public appearances and interactions. Only Tobe, Miss Emily’s manservant, was seen on his regular shopping excursions, and even he was steadily growing “grayer and more stooped.…” Although there were attempts at extracting information from Tobe, Tobe refused to answer any questions about Miss Emily, and eventually the town stopped trying. Then one day without any warning, Miss Emily died.

Analysis
The “noblesse oblige” that Miss Emily has seemed to have forgotten comes around to affect the town’s—especially the “ladies’”—view of Miss Emily. After Miss Emily purchased the poison from the druggist, the town became overly preoccupied, even obsessed,...

(The entire section is 604 words.)