Why is Miss Emily's hair color change significant in "A Rose for Emily"?

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In "A Rose for Emily," two of the major elements of the story are evolution and time.  The story spans most of Miss Emily 's adult life, and the narrative voice of the townspeople charts the public view of Miss Emily over the course of many years.  As...

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a young woman, Miss Emily was sheltered by her father, and after his death, she was left to take care of herself.  But Emily has never let go of the past, and moments like her refusal to pay her taxes based on a decision that was made a decade ago suggest that she continues to hold onto her past life.  Her relationship withHomer Barron marks an opportunity for Miss Emily to change her life for the better, but after he breaks off their relationship, Miss Emily seems to not be able to recover from the loss.  The change in hair color is symbolic of the passing of time, and an indicator of the irony that although Emily refuses to acknowledge the passing of time, she is powerless to stop time and change.  The hair is also crucial to the plot in that the hair that is found next to Homer's body is the link to the reader's understanding that Emily has been lying with the dead body to keep herself close to Homer.

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In "A Rose for Emily" what is the importance of Miss Emily's hair changing color?

When someone goes through a very stressful or traumatic experience, sometimes their hair changes color.  Documented cases of survivors from car wrecks, personal tragedy, and other losses show people-even young children-coming away from those experiences with a shock of gray hair as a result of the trauma.  It is a strange phenomenon that sometimes occurs.  It can happen suddenly, or the effects of aging can be expedited more quickly if one is under consistent and prolonged stress.  When Faulkner presents Miss Emily as having her hair color change, it is 6 months after Homer Barron disappeared.  No one had seen her during those six months, and the first time that they did, she had grown fat and had gray hair.  So, that could symbolize the great stress that she went through with the Homer Barron situation; I guess the trauma of him not wanting to be with her, then her unusual and disturbing reaction to that threat of abandonment took its toll on her.  It aged her quickly.  Faulkner was probably symbolizing that she had experienced a significant change in those 6 months, and that from that point on, her life was forever altered.

The gray hair mention also helps us to fill in the very gruesome missing details of the corpse in the attic, because when they find it, they also find an "iron-gray" hair lying next to it. Faulkner made sure that we knew she had gray hair after Homer's disappearance.  He made sure we knew that, so that when the townspeople find a gray hair next to his supposed body, they would understand just who had been lying next to it.

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