Miss Emily Grierson is born during the Civil War. Raised by her very strict father, she ignores the cultural and social progress exhibited by the New South, preferring to uphold the customs and standards of the pre–Civil War days. She continues the Grierson tradition of believing her social standing is higher than it really is, and thanks to her father's insistence that no one was good enough for his daughter, she remains unmarried and uncourted into her 30s. Upholding the standards of the Victorian woman—namely becoming a wife—is extremely important to Miss Emily. This is why she allows herself to be courted by Homer Barron, a man well below her class and a northerner to boot. Homer, unfortunately, isn't a "marrying man," so Miss Emily secretly kills him and keeps his body in a bridal suite/tomb. She becomes a recluse after Homer's disappearance, and the town doesn't discover her secret until after her own passing 40 years later.
Homer Barron is a big, brash man with a loud laugh, making him an unusual romantic partner for the cold and aloof Emily Grierson. He takes Miss Emily on weekly carriage rides after his arrival in Jefferson but has no intention of marrying her or any other woman. The implication is that he is gay. A little more than a year after his arrival in Jefferson, he goes into Miss Emily's home and is never seen again.