In the description of the bedroom in which the single grey hair upon the pillow is found, these words are written:
...everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valence curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights,...tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscure.
The rose, a symbol of love and passion, is now faded in death. Like the faded rose, Emily Grierson once possessed a passion, but this exuberance of emotion is now also "faded in death."
Agreed. Think about people who have lived pretty despicable lives; when they die and have a funeral or memorial, there is always someone who mourns their loss. In this case, it is the readers who mourn not the loss of Emily but the loss of a life she might have lived. Her father warped her from a young age, and even through our horror at the things she has done we feel at least a little sympathy for her. A rose is simply a farewell kind of peace offering--we hope she can finally rest in peace.
We use roses as a symbol of tribute -- think of funerals, stage performances etc. Emily's choice to kill Homer is a lot more complex than her just being crazy. The story is told in such a way that sympathy is created for Emily, and the story then becomes a rose for Emily. We don't applaud what she has done, but we understand it to a certain degree.
The first post has a lot of good reasons about why Emily's gift should be a rose in particular. But why should she get a parting gift in the first place? I think that is part of the question here -- why does she deserve a parting gift.
If that's the question, she deserves it because she's had a hard life. Her father was so overbearing and protective that she was never able to have a normal life. He drove away every man that ever tried to get near her and that left her alone. Because of that, she deserves some sort of a parting gift. She did her best to deal with the loneliness and (perhaps) insanity or depression that her father's behavior left her with. We should admire that and honor her for that. A rose, then, is deserved.
A rose would have been an appropriate farewell gift for Miss Emily Grierson, but author William Faulkner probably knew of the rose's other symbolic meanings.
- A rose, of course, is a symbol of love--something that Emily never could seem to attain.
- A rose is a symbol of silence, another attribute that Emily practiced for most of her life.
- A rose was often placed on a door where secrets meetings were held (thus the term "sub rosa"--under the rose), and Emily took one particular secret to her grave.
- In pagan religions, no ghostly creatures can cross the path of a rose.
- The rose is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary.