A symbol is a person, object, or event that suggests more than its literal meaning. In the story 'A Rose for Emily,' the symbolism shows more about the character than is detailed by the author, William Faulkner. Symbolism helps to indicate several things in the story: how Ms. Emily was once innocent but later changes, how her hair and some other items helped to show her resistance to change, how the room where Homer died shows that she loved Homer and her desire to stop change, how Homer's name and actions suggest that he is a homosexual, and how she could not get away from her father's control even after his death.
First, Ms. Emily used to white wear dresses, which symbolize innocence, but she begins wearing black clothes, much like a mourner's style of dress, after Homer presumably disappears. Emily's change in appearance shows that she has become soiled in some sense.
Ray West further supports this theory.
'Emily had not always looked like this. When she was young and part of the world with which she was contemporary, she was, we are told, 'a slender figure in white,' as contrasted with her father, who is described as 'a spraddled silhouette.' Even after her father's death,...[She] looked like a girl 'with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows - sort of tragic and serene.' The suggestion is that she had already begun her entrance into that nether-world(a world which is depicted later as ' rose-tinted)' (149)
Another example of Emily's change is also exhibited in how the house begins to degenerate. At one time the house was white and emaculate, but Emily allows it to become decrepit and dirty.
'It was big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and...