What happens at the end of "A Rose for Emily"?

At the end of "A Rose for Emily," the door of a locked room in Emily's house is broken down to reveal a dead man on the bed. Beside him, the pillow has an indentation in it and a gray hair on it, suggesting that Emily used to sleep there. It is heavily implied that the corpse belongs to Homer Barron, a man whom Emily had a brief courtship with and very likely murdered.

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The timeline of "A Rose for Emily" is disrupted, beginning with her funeral and circling back to the main events of her life. The story ends, however, after Emily is "decently in the ground," with the townspeople forcing their way into a locked room in her house, where...

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The timeline of "A Rose for Emily" is disrupted, beginning with her funeral and circling back to the main events of her life. The story ends, however, after Emily is "decently in the ground," with the townspeople forcing their way into a locked room in her house, where they find a dead man laid out on the bed. There is an indentation in the pillow beside him, and on the pillow, they find "a long strand of iron-gray hair."

Throughout the story, strange and unsettling images take precedence over explanation. The most obvious way to explain the images with which the story concludes is by assuming that when Homer Barron was about to leave Emily, she poisoned him. She then laid out his corpse in this room and continued to sleep beside him at night. This would all be in keeping with Emily's ruthless, high-handed, arbitrary approach to the world.

However, the fact that we are left with an image and not an explanation makes it easier to avoid passing judgment on Emily as a murderer or a lunatic. Readers sometimes ask where the rose of the story's title appears in the story. The color "rose" is mentioned in the final scene, but there is no actual flower. It is sometimes suggested, therefore, that Faulkner himself is presenting his protagonist with a rose by treating her conduct in the most chivalrous manner possible.

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