A Rose For Emily and Other Short Stories

How does this story handle the linked themes of female oppression and empowerment? What does it say about the various kinds of male-female relationships in American society of this period?

A Rose For Emily

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This is a pretty complex question for this short-answer forum space. In "A Rose for Emily," the narrator, who is the voice of the town, describes how the town people had resented the Griersons because they "held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such." So when Miss Emily reached thirty and was still unmarried, they felt "not pleased exactly, but vindicated." After Miss Emily's father died and left the house to her, they were glad to pity her because "being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized." Females are expected to fit a narrow definition of femininity. If they do not marry, they are considered old and spinsters. A key to the role of the old maid is that the townspeople must whisper, "Poor so-and-so" about the woman. Pity is essential, for the role to be tragic. In "A Rose for Emily," the narrator reports that "as soon as the old people said 'Poor Emily,' the whispering began... this behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed: 'Poor Emily.'"