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Class

Raymond (1997) raises the issue of social class and social behavior for Emily Grierson: "This story takes place in the 'Old South.' The Old South relied heavily on class structure in order to tell how a person was to behave. Since Miss Emily was considered somewhat upper class, she was expected to behave a certain way. When she fails to behave in the expected manner, it gives the townspeople something to talk about; it makes her seem more like an ordinary person. It's kind of like watching the royal family and all of their problems."

Tracy explains the ways of a Southern belle (but doesn't espouse them): "Being a Mississippi Southern belle, who was born and raised in this wonderful state, I read 'A Rose for Emily' from the Southerner's perspective. It is clear to me that this story is one about a Southern belle of a Southern aristocratic family, who has been made into a vulgar joke by her modern townspeople. The newer generations have forgotten the elegance and charm of the Southern aristocracy, the chivalry of the Southern gentleman, and the poise of the Southern belle. In the good old days, a woman was always the utmost lady; and a man was a gentleman.

"Emily grew up in this [pre-war] world; but, as she grew older, the society which brought her up to be that way, grew younger; and began to lose the respect it once had for such elegance. They wanted her to begin to pay taxes (never speak to a Southerner about their money); they tried to make her get a mailbox.  Southern women, myself included, have a somewhat obsession about our homes, especially those with an antebellum home such as Emily's. You just do not blemish your home with such an ugly thing as a tin mailbox! People no longer valued the art of being a worldly lady, and they stopped taking art lessons from Emily.

"They would rather learn such crude skills as manual labor, and manly jobs, such as business jobs. Who would have ever thought it! Emily was brought up to 'depend on the kindness of strangers'; but as she grew older, she realized that such chivalry and the Southern gentleman no longer existed. That is why she began to try to search for some other form of love in Homer; and, when he could not give that love to her satisfactory, she could not lose face (pride); so she killed him. As we all know, Southern pride shall never be lost! Don't get me wrong, just because I wrote this does not mean that I necessarily live in such a manner!"

Whitney (2003; KCKCC) sees class as confining: "I think a lot of this was based on Miss Emily's class. She was looked at in the upper class, and as stated before, people expected her to act in a certain way. The town was so nosy, and just expected her to do everything that they did. She shut herself away, and didn't let anyone know what was going on in her life. They just gossiped and gossiped about what was happening. Then she died, and they didn't care. They just wanted to see her house. They find the dead guy, and they realized that they thought wrong about her this whole time."

Dawn (1999: JSRCC) concurs: "Emily, it seems, was not able to make the decisions she wanted to due to her standing in the social community. Homer was not considered a good marriage partner for Emily due to her social standing in "the old south." Due to this her choice to kill him and preserve him, as one does a rose, may have been, in her mind her only option. After losing her father and her love in her younger years she regressed into a state of fantasy, longing for the times gone by. This fantasy world allowed her to keep him for all time in this room of roses. I think the wedding attire and gifts also explain her deep insanity. Why would a sane person buy these items just to kill the receiver of them?"

Jean (1999; JSRCC) sees the Griersons as representative of the class of "noblemen" who prolonged a monstrosity: "The domineering, noble 'holier than thou,' status that the aristocratic southerners tried to maintain in themselves and their progeny created an entire society of wrong thinking people. The father symbolized an entire generation of dominant males who created a monster called the Old South?"