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The surprise ending stems from the fact that Miss Emily has not been sleeping alone.
We get clues throughout the work - probably the most important the smell that comes from Miss Emily's house after Homer disappears. The use of chloride of lime (applied by the helpful villagers) to cover the smell was commonly used in slave ship vessels to help mask the odor of decaying people.
After Miss Emily's death the body of someone else - doubtlessly Homer- is found on a bed. The indentation on the pillow next to the body as well as the strand of grey hair, tell us that Homer has not been resting there alone. The gruesome conclusion can only be that Miss Emily has been keeping the dead Homer company all thee years.

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After Miss Emily was placed buried, a room above the stairs at Miss Emily's, which has not been opened for years, is forced open.

An "acrid pall as of the tomb" seemed to lie on everything in the room, including "upon the delicate array of crystal and the man's toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured," as well as upon a man's suit of clothes.

And on the bed was "the man himself," with a "profound and fleshless grin." Although never mentioned by name, the fleshless skeleton, in the position of an endless embrace, is that of Homer Barron. Next to his head is a second pillow, with the "indentation of another head," and on it is a "long strand of iron-gray hair."

Also, with the ending, Faulkner also forces the reader to reexamine the narration from the very beginning for the continual hints of Barron's fate that he offers.

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