During the late 1800's, the United States, particularly in the south, was in the process of going through a dramatic transformation brought about by the Civil War. The aftereffects profoundly altered the life of each and every citizen. During this time of the "New South," many changes paved the way for political and social equality among the people. No longer could wealthy landowners own slaves to work their land and act as servants; neither could the wealthy survive among the elite solely because of their family name. This transition from the "Old South" to the "New South," took many years and several generations; it marked a painful time when not only the physical surroundings inside communities were affected, but also involved changing the ideology of the southern people. In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," we are shown a glimpse of this transition in a town called Jefferson and through the character of Miss Emily Grierson, a survivor of the Old South who serves as an emblem of the traditions and ways of life in the past while representing it's evil and romanticizing it in the post Civil War era.
During the period of the "Old South" in Jefferson, few families were in the upper and aristocratic part of society; and, in time, these families disappeared as people adjusted to the revolutionized lifestyle demanded in the "New South." The character, Miss Emily Grierson, is depicted as the last living Grierson after the passing of her father. In effect, her passage would mark the end of the Grierson lineage and in a way mirrored the end of the "Old South." She had been raised as Miss Emily, a person of high social standing, a sort of "southern belle" and an upstanding member of society. Her refusal to adapt to the New South is apparent through the relationship with her African American servant/cook, Tobe. Although the end of the Civil War in 1865 brought about the end of slavery, Miss Emily was one of the few, if not the only, citizen to have a servant.