"A Rose for Emily" doesn't look at America through rose-colored glasses, even though many of its characters do. In the aftermath of slavery, the American South shown in the novel is in bad shape. The novel deals with the stubborn refusal of some southerners to see that the America they believed in – an America based on slavery – was no more. The story covers about 74 years, beginning sometime just before the Civil War. The focus, however, is on the periods from about 1894 to 1935. Because the dates are all jumbled together, we have to work to untangle the stories present vision of America from the vision of the past.
The second paragraph of the first section of "A Rose for Emily" gives us all the clues we need to find out what the story is saying about America.
The story shows how difficult it was for southern people to deal with the new America represented by the Emancipation Proclamation.