In "A Rose for Emily," what is meaningful in the final detail that the strand of hair on the second pillow is iron-gray?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Time has passed by Miss Emily Grierson. As a member of one of the "old names," Miss Emily is for the townspeople

a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town....

As such, she has been somewhat revered and elevated in the eyes of the townspeople as she has clung tenaciously to the life of the Old South, a life "that has robbed her, as people will."  Nevertheless, she invokes the privileges of her old social position when she demands arsenic, for instance.  When Homer Barron leaves, Emily disappears inside her home, an act that the townspeople have expected because of her pride.  When they do see Emily, the people notice that her hair has turned "pepper-and-salt iron-gray," a "vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man." Then, she passes from generation to the next generation,

dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.

This description of Emily fits the gray hair found on her pillow that lies in the "patient and biding" dust.  Gray with age, but containing an iron, obdurate quality that would not allow her to be denied and rejected.



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