Explain Faulkner's technique in "placing" a gray hair on Miss Emily's bed in "A Rose for Emily".William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In William Faulkner's Southern Gothic short story "A Rose for Emily", the narrator (in the form of the "voices of the townsfolk") had been hinting at something mysterious that must have taken place in the house. After all, Miss Emily has come to be regarded as a relic of the town. Her house and her appearance are both stamps from the past that somehow have persisted the changes in time and society

So she vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell. That was two years after her father’s death and a short time after her sweetheart—the one we believed would marry her—had deserted her. After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all..

This excerpt shows us a Southern Gothic tradition: The themes of death, desolation, desperation and the curiosity of the smell all combine to create a deeply-rooted mystery that will eventually lead to the finding of the silver hair. It is the genre of the story what makes it necessary to create a situation that is both shocking, as it is grotesque.

Therefore, the end of the story reads

 Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair

Therefore, what we know now is that they have found the carcass of Homer Barron, Emily's only known male companion. We also know that he had apparently threatened to leave her, and that she has a complete inability to accept change. Hence, Emily had kept his body and slept with it for decades before he was found.

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