What is the purpose of the fox fur piece? What is the source of the crying in the final sentence of the story?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The fur necklet is symbolic of Miss Brill herself; when she puts it into the box and closes the lid, it sounds like it is crying because it will not be brought out again after the young couple have ridiculed it.

Leading a rather dull life as a spinster and a language tutor and reader to an old gentleman, Miss Brill eagerly anticipates attending the outdoor concerts and creating small dramas with the personalities from the people who are in attendance. One Sunday when she attends a concert, Miss Brill watches the spectators as is her habit, imagining scenarios of their lives. However, while envisioning a young erotic couple as Romeo and Juliet, Miss Brill overhears the boy ridiculing her after the girl does not want him to pet her.

"But why? Because of that stupid old thing at the end there?...Why does she come here at all—who wants her? Why doesn't she keep her silly old mug at home?"

Having her sentimental notions and romantic visions shattered, Miss Brill rushes back to "cupboard" of an apartment without her usual contented feeling of having connected with others. She suppresses her sorrow as she places the fur piece that has suffered insults equal to hers in its own cupboard of a box. This little fur piece has been the objective correlative of her own soul, with the wonder of "What has been happening to me" in its eyes and with the sound of crying as she puts it away, never to attend another concert. Like Miss Brill, the fur piece is doomed to dwell in a dark little room, alienated from meaningful human contact.

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