The story is not chronological, but completely out of order, adding mystery and climax. A flawed relationship between the town and Miss Emily is seen throughout the story.
The first section begins with the death of the main character, Emily Grierson, and relates the thoughts and actions of the small Southern U. The tension between the town (society) and Emily is a main reason for her recluse and insanity.
Then, when he died, people in the town pitied Emily.
However, they still held contempt towards her; they “were glad” they could feel sorry for her (393).
Her chances to marry were very slim and, “being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized” (393).
Unfortunately, the damage to Emily was more than monetary.
This dominance and arrogant attitude of the Griersons towards the surrounding society (they had always “held themselves a little too high for what they really were “) can also be traced in the fact that Miss Grierson’s only suitor came from a society different than that of Jefferson and that the description of his ways quite coincides with the way the Griersons are portrayed in a picture: “his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove“ (Faulkner 93–94).
Miss Grierson’s conflict with the present unfolds itself through her interaction with the contemporary society.
Last but not least, she ignores the public opinion and has things her own way secretly poisoning her disloyal suitor and thus preserves the reality the way she wants to see it.
Desperately fighting for preservation of her bygone past, Mrs Emily “prefers rather to murder than to die” (Fetterley 57).