Foremost among these-why would Homer take up with Emily if he were not interested in her romantically?
Did Emily provide a convenient cover for his unspeakable predilections, or was she a confidante, a fellow "queer" to whom Homer was drawn instinctively?
Given the narrative framework of the story, we can only imagine-we are not privy to-the loneliness and longing that Emily must have felt to have killed a man and slept beside his decaying corpse; yet we must undertake perhaps an equivalent imaginative flight to comprehend the confusion and frustration endured by Homer Barron, a gay man in an age when homosexuality was virtually tantamount to necrophilia.
Given the unrelieved constraints of his predicament, accentuated by the small-town Southern setting, Homer understandably might have sought out a confessor, a sympathetic ear to whom he could divulge his guilty secret.
As the ghastly conclusion of the story makes clear, however, our narrator and the townspeople he represents had only and always seen Emily from the outside-as the fact that they penetrate the inside of her house only after her death emphasizes.
There are depths to Emily Grierson that the superficial gaze of the narrator could not reach.
Furthermore, the presumptive language of the narrator (e.g., "what else could") underscores his own unquestioning inferences, while at the same time teasing skeptical readers to consider, indeed, what else could have been going on.
We need to be more inquisitive, more penetrating, than our workaday narrator.
These same students might be heartened to learn that an obstinate allegiance to their own particular reading of the text, any text, is validated by the most voguish literary theory. If this is the case, then meaning is not something one discovers or extracts but, rather, something one confers or creates.
According to the new paradigm that obtains in the classroom-at least among the avant-garde--teachers should no longer assume the role of hierophant, the initiated priest practiced in the freemasonry of literary hermeneutics, while students, benighted acolytes, gape and scribble down our oracular pronouncements. This model supplants the old aristocratic ideal, where a powerful, privileged reader-the teacher-dispenses authorized readings, ex cathedra, to mute vassals.