In A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner uses a theme common to many of his works. The changing of values and attitudes in southern society. Miss Emily was born into a family, the Griersons, that were very established in the community. She was said to be the last Greirson in this southern community. The family was no longer wealthy, but continued to be held in high esteem after her father died. The only material thing her father left her was the family home. Miss Emily was left a pauper by her fathers death.
However, the most important thing left her was the Grierson name and all that it represented in that town. The Grierson name conveyed such respect on Miss Emily, that she was virtually untouchable by anything except her own personal tragic circumstances. She escaped the consequences of poverty virtually by being who she was. She was so secure in her own identity that she faced down and vanquished the city authorities on the issue of having to pay taxes, referring them to a man who had been dead ten years as the person who had knowledge of her situation.
To avoid being poor Emily after her lover apparently refused to marry, she took matters into her own hands purchasing Arsenic. She offered no explanation for its use even though the druggist explained to her that the explanation was required by law. When an unbearable stench emanated from her property, the men sprinkled lime around the property to contain the smell but asked no questions out of respect for Miss Emily.
The people of the town knew that there was one room in that region above the stairs that most likely held a tragic secret. Out of respect for who she was or who she had been, the secret was allowed to be hidden until she was decently in the ground.. Allowances were made for Miss Emily that were not made for ordinary people. Only a community of Colonel Sartoris generation and thought would have allowed Miss Emily the priviledges she had in this story.