The story has five sections. In the first section, the narrator remembers the time when Emily Grierson died and her funeral. In a neighborhood that once was elegant and upscale is the last trace of that great era. Colonel Sartoris, the previous mayor of the town, allowed Emily not to pay taxes after her father’s death, saying that once Mr. Grierson had lent the community a huge sum. When new leader come to town they are trying to get Emily resume the payments. When the members of the Board of Aldermen come to her house, Emily says that she doesn’t have to pay taxes and they can talk to Colonel Sartoris, who was dead at that time.
In the second section, the narrator describes a time thirty years earlier when Emily resists one more official inquiry from the leaders, when people in the town smelled an odor in her house. After the death of Emily’s father, she was abandoned by the man who was supposed to marry her. As complaints about the odor start to come from more people, the mayor of the town decides to sprinkle lime around her house.
In the third section, the narrator describes a long disease that Emily suffers after the incident. After Emily’s father died, the workers started paving sidewalks in the town. The main guy of the construction company, Homer Barron, becomes popular in town and is seen taking Emily on rides, which scandalizes the town and increases the pity they have for Emily. They feel that she is forgetting the pride of her family and becoming involved with a man beneath her status.
As the affair continues and Emily’s reputation is getting more compromised, she goes to the drug store to buy a poison. Workers at the pharmacy ask her to tell them what she is going to use if for. She doesn’t give any explanation to that.
In the fourth section, the narrator describes the fear that some of the people in the town think Emily is about to use the poison to kill herself. Her potential marriage to Homer looks very unlikely. The women in the town insist the Baptist minister talk to Emily. After his visit, he doesn’t speak of what happened and swears that he will not go back. Then the minister’s wife writes to Emily’s cousins in Alabama and they come for an extended stay. After her cousins depart, Homer comes to Emily and never seen again afterwards. Emily stays in the house and gets plump. Her doors remain closed to outsiders despite to those she gives china painting lessons to. Emily still refuses to acknowledge the tax bill. She finally closes the top of the house. Except for the occasional glimpse of her in the window, nothing is heard from her until her death at age seventy-four. Only a servant is seen going in and out of her house.
In the last section, the narrator describes what happens after Emily dies.
The story has five sections. In the first section, the narrator remembers the time when Emily Grierson died and her funeral. In a neighborhood that once was elegant and upscale is the last trace of that great era. Colonel Sartoris, the previous mayor of the town, allowed Emily not to pay taxes after her father’s death, saying that once Mr. Grierson had lent the community a huge sum.