Foreshadowing is a literary device used to hint at something that will happen later in the work. An author can use a variety of tools—including setting, dialogue, and narration—to foreshadow a coming event. In Our Town, Thornton Wilder prepares the reader (or audience member) for the events in act 3 from very early in the play.
Act 3 takes place in the town cemetery, where the recently deceased Emily is attempting to come to terms with leaving the world of the living. Wilder subtly points to this in act 1 when the stage manager describes the setting of Grover's Corners and includes a description of the cemetery:
The earliest tombstones in the cemetery up there on the mountain say 1670–1680—they’re Grovers and Cartwrights and Gibbses and Herseys—same names as are around here now.
At the time of her death, Emily Webb was Emily Gibbs. She is in one of graves the stage manager is referencing.
A few pages later, Emily and her mother have a conversation that again hints at her death:
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