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What is 'predicting' and 'foreshadowing' and what is the difference between them?How...

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crazy4biology | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 12, 2010 at 4:52 PM via web

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What is 'predicting' and 'foreshadowing' and what is the difference between them?
How can I define "flashback'?
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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted January 12, 2010 at 7:26 PM (Answer #1)

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In literature the writer uses varying styles and literature styles to develop a story.  The use of prediction is one way to get a reader to become excited about what may happen as the story progresses.  The use of predicting is developed by the writer by a series of issues of presentations that allow the reader to make predictions on the future outcome based on the presentation.

Foreshadowing is somewhat different but is also relative to the future.  Fore shadowing occurs when the writer gives hints or ideas that something more is to come.  In the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" Scout and Jem find treasures in the tree by Boo Radley's home.  This is meant as a hint to foreshadow the revelation that later in the story the children will discover that Boo is not a bad man but rather a kind man.

Flashbacks occur when the writer moves the reader form the present to an event or memory from the past.  Writer will often begin the story in the present and then take the reader to the past.  In the book "The Kite Runner" and "Frankenstein" the narrator moves from the present to the past allowing he events to unfold which serve to explain how the events led to the present.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted January 12, 2010 at 10:04 PM (Answer #2)

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In great literature, a reader will often be 'hooked into' a story or plot, whether that is in a novel or a short story or even a poem,by the excitement of trying to predict what will happen next as the plot develops towards the denoument of the action. It is often said that the better the author, the more gripping the story. Obviously, this engagement of the reader through prediction works better in some genres than in others - for example thrillers, horror stories and crime mysteries are very popular because readers choose those books deliberately because they enjoy them. Agatha Christie and Ian Rankin would be among those authors. A romance can be gripping too as we try to predict whether the girl will get her man etc. Foreshadowing helps readers to guess at end results by giving them subtle markers to pick up on (such as the manner of a character's death as in The Red Ibis.)

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted January 13, 2010 at 12:24 AM (Answer #3)

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To my mind, predicting is done primarily by the reader, whereas foreshadowing is done primarily by the author.

Readers make predictions all the time, even where the author has not really dropped any hints regarding the outcome of the story's plot.  For example, as soon as you pick up a book about a mountain-climbing expedition, you probably begin making predictions about whether the climbers will reach the top of the mountain safely.  You tend to make these predictions  even if the author is doing nothing more than telling the story in a simple, chronological order.

By contrast, foreshadowing is an element that is purposefully and skillfully inserted into a story by its author.  For example, our mountain-climbing author might begin his story by mentioning that the region in which the climb is taking place is often plagued by hurricanes.  When you first read this, you might think that this is just a bit of background information about the setting.  Really, the author is hinting to you that the expedition is going to be troubled by rain and high winds.

Of course, when the author foreshadows, the savvy reader predicts.  But savvy readers predict even when the author has not foreshadowed.

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 13, 2010 at 12:41 AM (Answer #4)

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Most or all of the posters answering up to this point have defined "prediction" in terms of the readers' expections. That's certainly one way to define the term, but I wonder, too, if the word might be applied to the literary text, just like "foreshadowing" and "flashback."

In this sense of the word, "prediction" might mean a literal statement that is made early in the work about some future development and indeed proves (or doesn't prove!) true by the end of the literary work. There's no guarantee that a prediction will come true, after all, or that it will come true in the way that was initially expected. The hags in Macbeth predict things, right? The woods will walk, the man will become king, etc. They don't foreshadow things.

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