In “A Rose for Emily”, a woman (for whom the story is named) confines herself in her somewhat large house in a small town during the early half of the twentieth century. For the most part, in order to understand the entirety of the story, it is vital to understand the setting and how each character develops it, and,or, interacts with it.
As far as the town is concerned, it is very isolated and the people seem to value this quality, as well as the lack of progression in social change, most. There is also a great deal of gossip that regularly circulates about the town’s people with great interest. All this was best implied in the comment, “At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said ‘Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.’ But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige — without calling it noblesse oblige”(719). This is a comment on Emily’s relationship with construction worker, Homer Barron. In regards their being a pride in the lack of social change, there is still a deep disdain for those who would dare inter-date between the social castes. Of course, the bold commentary on Emily’s, or anyone’s, personal life definitely implies that gossip is a daily activity for the people about town.
Emily’s house is where Emily spent most of her life in isolation after the death of her father. Externally, it is considered to be “an eyesore among eyesores”(716) It is amongst cotton gins and that were put up after homes that previously resided on the street had since been moved out. Her house is basically the picture of decay amongst the newer buildings. This could possibly signify Emily’s position in the town, or the town’s position in the rest of the world. On one hand, the town is small and isolated, but on the other hand, Emily has isolated herself entirely from the rest of the town and seems to cling to her past even more so than the town itself.
The interior of Emily’s house “…smelled of dust and disuse — a close, dank smell”(716). When the house’s parlor was seen by some rare guests, it was described by the narrarator as ” …furnished in heavy, leather covered furniture…the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray.” People rarely set foot into this house, at Emily’s discretion, so there is a sort of deadness and decay within it that seems to match it’s owner who “… looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue”(718). This house has remained there for so long, despite it’s obviously gross antiquity, because of Emily’s strong insistance that she can still find happier times through the past. It seems that she does not want to leave the confines of her home because she does not want to lose that illusion that she controls time, and the house, inwardly, and outwardly, reflects this.
In conclusion, it is not difficult to see that the interaction between the characters, particularly Emily, and their setting must be understood in order tell the story. Otherwise, it may be difficult to interpret why people act the way they do in the story.