How does the effect of the last paragraph in a "Rose for Emily" contribute to your understanding of Emily?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The last paragraph of "A Rose for Emily" reveals that on the second pillow on the bed containing the profoundly decomposed skeleton of Homer Barron is an "indentation" which suggested a person had been sleeping there. On the pillow is a "long strand of iron-gray hair," clearly that of Miss Emily. We know that Emily had killed Homer Barrow, almost certainly with the arsenic she purchased from the druggist earlier in the story. What this passage suggests is that she did so in order to hold on to him, to keep him from leaving despite his apparent lack of interest in her and the town's (and her cousins') disapproval of him. His skeleton is contorted into what seems to be the position of an embrace, and the indentation in the pillow, as well as the hair, shows that she has been sleeping by his side for years. It could be argued that the discovery of the hair on the pillow makes Emily a tragic, pitiable figure rather than simply a demented murderer.

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A Rose for Emily

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