The setting in William FaulknerÆs A Rose for Emily is highly significant to the themes, characters, and events of the short story. Miss Emily Grierson is a relic from the past, one who refuses to accept modernity and change. The setting employed by Faulkner demonstrates such an attitude. Miss GriersonÆs father, Colonel Sartoris, used to be the Mayor of the town. Miss Grierson is used to being protected by her family name, her father, and the fact that in the past her father basically ran the town and everyone in it. She refuses to accept reality, will not pay her taxes, and is responsible for the murder of a former beau who jilted her. Faulkner uses setting to contrast the encroaching and inevitable forces of modernity against Miss EmilyÆs stubborn refusal to change.
The setting of A Rose for Emily is established early by Faulkner. No one has seen the inside of Miss EmilyÆs home for over a decade. Miss EmilyÆs last name is described as one ôof those august namesö of the past (1). Even the house in which Miss Emily lives is portrayed as stubborn, proud and unwilling to adapt to the changing environment around it, ôàonly Miss EmilyÆs house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps,ö (1). In an earlier era, Miss EmilyÆs father and her home were hallmarks of the townÆs elite residents and residences. Her father never paid taxes because he loaned money to the town and it was considered a preferable form of repayment.
Despite the facts of the past, the town is now changed. Garages and cotton gins have ôobliteratedö the august names of the town, (1). In fact, Miss Emily stubborn like her house, refuses to pay her taxes even though the officials no longer permit her to do as her father had once done, ôWhen the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction,ö (2)