The entire community attends Emily Grierson's funeral, but no one really knew her. When she was alive, Colonel Sartoris, the town's previous mayor, had suspended Emily's tax responsibilities to the town after her father's death, justifying the action by claiming that Mr. Grierson had once lent the community a significant sum.
Emily's father had turned down most of her suitors. By the time he died, she had no more suitors. When people stopped by to express their condolences about her father's death, Emily told them that her father was not dead. Eventually there was a strange odor that emanated from Emily's house.
Emily meets Homer Barron, a single Northerner who is in town to oversee the construction crew making new sidewalks. Homer's reputation is scandalous. When the town noticed they are spending time together, the town frowned upon the union.
She goes to the drug store to purchase arsenic, a powerful poison. She is required by law to reveal how she will use the arsenic but she offers no explanation. The more outraged women of the town insist that the Baptist minister talk with Emily. After his visit, he never speaks of what happened and swears that he’ll never go back. So the minister’s wife writes to Emily’s two cousins in Alabama, who arrive for an extended stay.
After the cousins’ departure, Homer enters the Grierson home one evening and then is never seen again. After some time has passed, the door to a sealed upstairs room that had not been opened in forty years is broken down by the townspeople.
Then some items for an upcoming wedding and a man’s suit laid out. Homer Barron’s body is stretched on the bed as well, in an advanced state of decay. The onlookers then notice the indentation of a head in the pillow beside Homer’s body and a long strand of Emily’s gray hair on the pillow.