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I first read this story when I was a freshman in high school, and even then I was not surprised by the ending. Faulkner cleverly provides just enough clues so that some readers will figure out what to expect at the conclusion, while other readers, like the townspeople, will be ompletely surprised.
The clues which tipped me off include the fact that Emily had a very difficult time letting go of her dead father's body; this indcates that Emily is ore than merely reluctant to change, she is emotionally dependent on maintaning her sense of reality. Of course, as others mentioned, she buys poison, the townspeople smell a bad odor, Homer suddenly disappears and Emily stops going out and about.
Emily cannot allow for Homer to upset her reality--that they will be married and live happily together. I knew she killed Homer for that reason, and I figured out what would be found in the bridal room: Homer's corpse in the bed, and something showing that Emily slept beside him. Nothing in Emily's life had been what most people would consider normal--everything is twisted and warped--so I expected this conclusion. It's the only one which works for Miss Emily.
The end of the story is, in my opinion, predictable. Emily has already given the reader evidence of her fascination with dead bodies when she refused to bury her father.
"His death leaves Emily a tragic, penniless spinster. She may even be mad—she denies that her father is dead at first and she won’t allow anyone to remove his corpse until she breaks down after three days."
I think that Emily's eccentric behavior should be an indication that something out of the ordinary was going on in her house.
Her comfort level with corpses and her dying life all around her make the finding of Homer Barron's corpse in her house a fitting, and not unexpected ending.
This is a good question for the discussion board since you are requesting opinions.
I must admit that I never saw the ending coming the first time I read the story back in high school. I remember being thoroughly shocked and entirely grossed out that Emily, the high and mighty aristocratic southern girl, had been sleeping with a corpse all those years.
The lye, the smell, etc. gave it away that she had killed him...she was way too proud to let him get away with embarrassing her...but I had no inkling that she had treated him as she would a loving husband. Ugh!
The first time I read the story many years ago, I was totally taken by surprise at the end. I had suspected that she had killed Homer Barron through the foreshadowing that Faulkner used, but I did not expect the townspeople to find what they did in the attic. That was the most shocking part to me, that she had been sleeping beside the body of Homer Barron. Faulkner really knew how to build the suspense in the story!
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