Throughout human history, stories have been the preferred form for expression of moral commitments. Narrative is a primary means for testing with concrete particularizations the benefits and disadvantages of specific ethical decisions. Narrative retellability and rereadability ensure that such examinations will not too easily crystallize into mere dogma. (Karl Kroeber, Retelling and Rereading, Le Guin, pg. 189).
William Faulkner's short story "A Rose For Emily" presents three major issues to the audience that ensure the retellability and rereadability of this narrative: ethics, passage of time, and death. The reader can be torn by having pity on a murderer by acknowledging the reasons for the crime. Faulkner's character portrayal and setting details illustrate the conflict between past and present. Finally, decay and death imagery is pervasive throughout the text, which leaves the reader agitated. All of these conflicts are embedded in the narrative. The reader is faced with choices of good vs. evil, past vs. present, and accepting life vs. ignoring death. The reader is faced with choices involving the main character, Emily Grierson, which are identifying with her faults, acknowledging her defiance of the present, and coming to terms with the morbidity surrounding Emily.
The ethical question lies heavily with Emily's choices. Emily is a part of the old, genteel South, which is a time where certain privileges are granted to people with good families. For instance, the town mayor, Colonel Satoris, "remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity" (Faulker 29). She belongs to a fading class of people and is referred to as a "fallen monument" (Faulkner 28). It is a time of conservative appearance and strict upbringing. The town's people are upset to find that Emily would Emily would not only date a "Yankee", and it was also disgraceful that he would not marry her.