A Rose for Emily

Miss Emily’s Hair Symbol Icon
In a sense, one of our greatest sources of insight into Miss Emily’s character, who she is and how she changes, is (shockingly enough) her hair. For example, after her father dies, Miss Emily falls ill for a long time; when she reappears in public, “her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl.” Earlier Miss Emily denies that her father is really dead, and her subsequent girlish haircut only seems like a subtle affirmation of this denial, a sign that she still thinks of herself as daddy’s little girl, as it were. Later, after Homer Barron disappears into the Grierson house, Miss Emily is next seen with “iron-gray” hair, “like the hair of an active man.” First, like an iron helmet, the “iron-gray” hair suggests that Miss Emily has something to protect—and indeed she is protecting a dreadful secret: Homer’s murder. Second, that her hair resembles the hair of an active man suggests that Miss Emily has rejected her community’s norms for female conduct, which she indeed has, albeit perversely so, in asserting her control over Homer by murdering him. And, finally, it is only by discovering a strand of Miss Emily’s hair on a pillow next to Homer’s corpse that the townspeople realize just how damaged, even criminally insane Miss Emily was. Given all of this, we might conclude that Miss Emily’s hair symbolizes both the woman’s turbulent mental life as well as her radical isolation from her community.

Miss Emily’s Hair Quotes in A Rose for Emily

The A Rose for Emily quotes below all refer to the symbol of Miss Emily’s Hair. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Post Civil-War South Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Modern Library edition of A Rose for Emily published in 1993.
Section 5 Quotes

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 irony-gray hair.

Related Characters: The townspeople (speaker), Miss Emily Grierson
Related Symbols: Miss Emily’s Hair
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaec

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other A Rose for Emily quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire A Rose for Emily LitChart as a printable PDF.
A rose for emily.pdf.medium

Miss Emily’s Hair Symbol Timeline in A Rose for Emily

The timeline below shows where the symbol Miss Emily’s Hair appears in A Rose for Emily. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 3
The Post Civil-War South Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Patriarchal Authority and Control Theme Icon
...fell ill for a long time. When next seen by the townspeople, she had a girlish haircut and looked “tragic and serene.” Around this time, a construction company, which the town authorities... (full context)
Section 4
The Post Civil-War South Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Patriarchal Authority and Control Theme Icon
Time and Narrative Theme Icon
When the townspeople next saw Miss Emily in person, she had grown fat and her hair had turned an “iron-gray.” From that time on, her door was always closed, save for... (full context)
Section 5
The Post Civil-War South Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Patriarchal Authority and Control Theme Icon
Time and Narrative Theme Icon
Gossip, Social Conventions, and Judgment Theme Icon
...noticed the indentation of another head, and one person lifted from the pillow “a long strand of iron-gray hair ”—Miss Emily’s. (full context)