Foreshadowing In A Rose For Emily

In "A Rose for Emily," what details foreshadow the conclusion, and how does this create interest and suspense?

In "A Rose for Emily," some details that foreshadow the conclusion are the unpleasant smell that emanates from Emily's house, Emily purchasing rat poison, and the disappearance of Homer. This creates interest and suspense because the reader is left wondering how these details will come together to reveal what Emily is hiding.

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In A Rose for Emilyby William Faulkner, the ending holds a surprise twist. In the bed in Miss Emily ’s room is the skeleton of her long dead boyfriend. The impression of Miss Emily’s head and a long strand of her gray hair is next to his pillow....

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Thus, the reader understands that Miss Emily had been sleeping with the lifeless body of her lover since she murdered him.

Faulkner provides several details that foreshadow this bizarre conclusion and create interest and suspense. Earlier in the novel, Faulkner describes an unpleasant odor that emanates from Miss Emily’s house. Once the reader learns that Homer Barron’s body has been decaying in the bedroom all these years, it is clear that this was the source of the odor.

Moreover, Miss Emily purchases rat poison, but in her haughty way, mysteriously refuses to tell the chemist her intended use for it. Again, with the revealing of Homer’s dead body, the conclusion is that Miss Emily killed him and kept his dead body in her home for years. Moreover, before the unveiling of Homer's dead body, the scene with the chemist prompts questions about why Miss Emily needs the poison. The reader is left in suspense and wonders what is going on.

Prior to the denouement, the narrator discusses how Miss Emily dismisses the town civil servants who come to her home to ask her to pay her taxes. The narrator says:

“So she vanquished them… just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.

That was …a short time after her sweetheart …had deserted her.”

The juxtaposition of the smell and the alleged desertion of Homer is telling. It foreshadows that the cause of the smell was Homer’s death. Another example of foreshadowing occurs in the discussion of Miss Emily’s behavior after her father’s death; she told the townspeople “that her father was not dead. She did that for three days…” Moreover, the narrator continues, “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her…”

We can surmise that this is precisely what she did with Homer. Homer said “that he was not a marrying man.” Thus, he might have threatened to leave her, so she murdered him and clung to his lifeless body for years.

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Faulkner begins the short story by commenting on Emily Grierson's enigmatic nature, which shrouds her character in mystery and foreshadows the secret behind her closed doors. Faulkner writes that the community of Jefferson has not seen the inside of Emily's house in ten years and is anxious to look into her residence. Faulkner also builds suspense by telling the story out of chronological order, adding important bits of information, which foreshadow the dramatic ending. In Part Two, the reader learns that there was once an awful smell emanating from Emily's home. The community had to secretly spread lime throughout Emily's yard to eliminate the odor. Faulkner then foreshadows Emily's declining mental state by revealing that there is a history of mental illness throughout her family. The fact that Emily refuses to acknowledge her father's death also foreshadows her behavior after Homer dies. In Part Three, Faulkner discusses Emily's relationship with Homer Barron, which is frowned upon by the citizens of Jefferson. Emily's decision to buy arsenic also foreshadows her subsequent crime. Homer Barron's disappearance and Tobe's swift exit foreshadow the community's discovery. Faulkner's ingenious use of structure builds suspense and drama by gradually revealing significant pieces of information, which foreshadow Emily's shocking secret.

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There are a couple of details which foreshadow the story's conclusion, which is the discovery of Homer Barron's rotted corpse. Firstly, the conclusion is foreshadowed when Emily's father dies. Instead of releasing his body for burial, Emily refuses to acknowledge his death and does not allow anybody into the house for three days. With Homer, Emily clings to his body for an even longer amount of time. In fact, it is only through her death that his body is discovered.

Secondly, the strong smell which emanates from Emily's house suggests to the reader that something suspicious is going on. The smell begins almost immediately after Homer's disappearance, further adding to this suspicion, but the townspeople do not want to question Emily about it because she is a "lady."

By using foreshadowing to hint at the story's conclusion, Faulkner creates intrigue, keeping the reader interested in the plot development and guessing the outcome to the very end.

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Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" contains numerous examples of foreshadowing, and it's the foreshadowing that gives the surprise ending legitimacy once it occurs.

First, Emily is reluctant to give up her father's body once he dies.  She keeps it in the house until she is finally talked into releasing the body for burial five days after her father's death.  In this instance, the townspeople are aware of her father's death, so ultimately she has no choice but to give up the body.

Second, Emily buys poison.

Third, Homer disappears but nothing is said about anyone ever seeing him leave.

Fourth, the house smells.

Faulkner manipulates these events by relating them in piecemeal fashion so they do not come off as hints, but instead can be used as foreshadowing to legitimize the ending for the reader.

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Several examples of foreshadowing that point to Homer's fate are found throughout the story. Miss Emily's relationship with Homer is so frowned upon by the community that her relatives are called in to stop it. Emily buys arsenic and refuses to tell the druggist how she intends to use it. A terrible odor starts coming from the Grierson house. Homer is last seen alive entering Emily's house by the back door. Nobody has been inside the house for many years. Emily has a family history of madness, and her behavior when her father died suggested that she herself was mentally unsound.

These details strongly suggest that Homer has met an untimely death at Emily's hands, but Faulkner holds our interest and builds suspense in the story through its literary structure. The story is divided into five parts, and the events in the plot are rearranged so that they do not come to us in chronological order. Thus each detail that foreshadows the story's conclusion becomes a piece in the puzzle that is Emily's life after her father's death. When the door to the upstairs bedroom is forced open and Homer's decaying corpse is discovered, all the pieces fall into place, and we realize what Emily has done. When the indentation of someone else's head is discovered in the pillow next to Homer's remains, along with a long gray hair, the horror is made even greater. With this shocking conclusion, we realize finally the full extent of Emily's madness and lonely desperation.

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What details foreshadow the conclusion in the story of "A Rose For Emily"?

The longer answer to this question is that the entire history of Emily in the town is a foreshadowing of something gruesome and/or tragic that will be her destiny. Emily's life is a paradigm of the isolated, single woman in a traditional and male-dominated society. Her attachment to her father is unusual, and she becomes reclusive, defying the conventional norms of activity expected of her. The town of Jefferson looks upon her as an oddity, and an embarrassment.

The relationship with Homer, which should be a good thing, is actually a signal that something catastrophic will occur. Emily's buying poison, supposedly to rid the house of rats, and the smell people begin to notice around it, coincide with the disappearance of Homer, though he is an outsider anyway and no one thinks anything of the fact that he is no longer on the scene.

These elements in the story are the specific foreshadowing of Emily's tragic ending. Faulkner brings together gothic themes with the traditional portrayal of an unhappy "spinster" and merges them in turn with a symbolism about the society of the Old South which is becoming an obsolete world. All of these thematic strains contribute to the general sense of foreboding that dominates this trenchant story.

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What details foreshadow the conclusion in the story of "A Rose For Emily"?

In "A Rose For Emily," Faulkner uses lots of examples of foreshadowing to hint to the reader that Emily has poisoned Homer Barron and hidden his corpse inside her home.

The first example comes with the use of the word "decay" to describe Emily's home. This word is strongly suggestive of death, particularly the physical decomposition of a body, and, therefore, hints that a murder will take place.

Secondly, the smell which emanates from Emily's home is another example of foreshadowing because it implies that something unusual is going on.

In addition, Emily's refusal to accept her father's death and to cling on to his body also foreshadows the story's conclusion. Just like her father, Emily will later cling to the body of Homer Barron.

Finally, Emily's purchase of arsenic provides another strong hint at what will happen to Homer Barron. You'll notice that the druggist questions Emily about why she wants the poison and she is very reluctant to discuss it. For the reader, this is a clear sign that Emily has some sinister purpose in mind.

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What details foreshadow the conclusion in the story of "A Rose For Emily"?

At the conclusion of the short story, the town members finally knock down the upstairs door in Emily's home to a room that nobody had seen in forty years. Faulker then describes the mysterious room that was fitted for a bridal party. There were various wedding gifts and clothes that were covered in dust throughout the room. On the bed, a man's skeleton is lying down, and the pillow next to the skeleton has an indentation in it. There are also traces of Emily's iron-grey hair on the pillow which suggests that she had been sleeping next to Homer's dead skeleton.

There are several pieces of evidence that foreshadow this conclusion throughout the short story. To begin with, the reader knows that Emily's great-aunt Wyatt had gone completely crazy later on in life, which foreshadows Emily's insanity. Emily also buys arsenic, which foreshadows that she will kill Homer Barron. The stench that comes from her home suggests that Homer is indeed dead and is decaying in Emily's home. Also, Emily's refusal to acknowledge her father's death foreshadows her feelings towards Homer's death. She refuses to acknowledge that Homer has died and continues to sleep next to him each night.

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What details foreshadow the conclusion in the story of "A Rose For Emily"?

Author William Faulkner foreshadows much of the events that occur in "A Rose for Emily," particularly through the use of flashbacks. He begins in the first paragraph when, in mentioning Emily's funeral, he shows the women of Jefferson's "curiosity to see the inside of her house." The curiosity that Faulkner introduces about "the smell" pervades throughout the story. The stench that surrounds the property is much too strong to be a dead rat, but the townspeople (and the reader) can not be expected to assume the true cause. Emily's refusal to allow her father's body to be removed from the house for three days following his death foreshadows the presence of Homer's own body in the bedroom. Another strong example of foreshadowing appears when Emily purchases arsenic--strong enough to "kill anything up to an elephant"--to kill rats (or, in this case, the rat, Homer, who spurns her wedding advances). The fact that Homer is seen entering Emily's house but never leaving is another example.

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How does the author use plot to create interest and suspense in "A Rose for Emily?"

William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" paints a compelling portrait of a small town's fascination with their local "aristocrat," Miss Emily Grierson. The plot is engrossing in part because it is non-linear. It begins with Miss Emily's funeral, then meanders through different periods of her life in no particular order before returning to her funeral and what the townspeople find when they enter Miss Emily's house.

It's necessary for the reader to understand what Miss Emily means to the people of Jefferson so that the impact of their discovery can be fully appreciated. The Griersons were once a powerful family, but after the death of her father, Miss Emily fell upon hard times, so that, in Jefferson, she was seen as "a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town." She was cold and antisocial, and nobody really knew her, but the townspeople pitied her enough to accept her eccentricities.

Faulkner puts the reader in the same position, providing glimpses of Miss Emily without any sustained interaction. She was always removed from the people who saw her, behind a door, a window, a curtain, or her father. Any attempt by the townspeople to connect with or confront her was coldly and dispassionately rebuffed. Who was Miss Emily? What did she care about; what did she want for her life? This woman was an institution in the town of Jefferson for three generations, and in all that time, nobody ever got close enough to her to learn anything about her. The nearest they came to understanding her was in the aftermath of her father's death:

The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.

We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.

When Miss Emily had a whirlwind romance with a Yankee builder, Homer Barron, the town was baffled by his unsuitability as a partner. When Homer Barron disappeared, everyone assumed he had jilted Miss Emily. The plot tracks backward and forward in Miss Emily's life to build up a sense of how she might have reacted to this disappearance—she couldn't accept her father's death, after all, and she had never been allowed to court anyone when he was alive. On the other hand, she was always a solitary person who kept no company. The townspeople felt sorry for her, being unlucky in love, but she showed no emotion that they could discern. She was absolutely inscrutable from first to last, providing no explanation or justification for her actions at any point in her life. The inner mind of Miss Emily Grierson was as mysterious to the people of Jefferson as the inside of her house.

The glimpses Faulkner provides of Miss Emily only heighten the mystery around her, and his roundabout manner of exposition raises more questions than it answers. The reader must keep moving forward with the narrative through its loops and tangents in the hopes of gaining some kind of satisfaction. When the truth is revealed in the final sentences of the story, all the fragments of knowledge the town has gathered about Miss Emily over her lifetime come together in an instant, and the effect is deliciously macabre.

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How does the author use plot to create interest and suspense in "A Rose for Emily?"

Faulkner creates a sequence of events that build suspense in "A Rose for Emily." He starts with her death, which creates the idea that she is nothing more than a decayed monument to the past. The men in the town attend her funeral only to pay respect to her and her family's august past as a "fallen monument," and the women in the town attend her funeral only to see her house, which has been closed for several years.

However, as Faulkner relates more and more events about Miss Emily, she is presented as a woman engaged in suspicious activities. He dangles these seemingly unconnected events before the reader without resolving them until the end. First, Faulkner relates that a terrible odor developed around her house, which the town leaders resolved by sprinkling lime around her basement. Then, Faulkner relates her denial that her father died, followed by her strange courtship with Homer Barron, a visitor to the town, and his subsequent disappearance. Then, the reader learns that Miss Emily purchased arsenic from the druggist, which people thought she might use to kill herself after Homer deserted her. In the end, the townspeople and the reader discover the key to understanding the series of mysteries and strange incidents that Faulkner has presented in piecemeal fashion throughout the story—Emily has poisoned her lover and left his body to rot on her bed. 

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How does the author use plot to create interest and suspense in "A Rose for Emily?"

Interest and suspense are created in "A Rose for Emily" by predicting the death of the main character in the opening section of the story. This method of story-telling is commonly used in film as well as literature. 

By presenting the result of the narrative at the beginning of the story, the writer gives the audience a specific event to anticipate. In the case of this story, the anticipated event is Miss Emily's death. The question that the audience (reader) will naturally ask while reading the story is, "How will Miss Emily die?"

...foreshadowing creates expectation for action that has not yet happened. 

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In "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, what details foreshadow the conclusion of the story?

The story " A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner distinguishes itself from other stories in two distinct areas: the fractured time element and the narrator.  From these two aspects of the story, the reader finds himself in a delicious, gothic mystery story.  From beginning to end, Faulkner draws his readers into the life of Emily Grierson because who knows what is going to happen next. 

The reader finds many hints leading to the horrific ending of the story. These clues foretell the obvious: something is not quite right in Emily's house. Look at the events leading up to the ending which predict an unusual resolution.


Section 1

No one has been inside Emily's house for over ten years.

She refuses to accept death [Colonel Sartoris had been dead for several years.] This happens more than once.

Section 2

There was a terrible smell emerging from Emily's property and house.

It's simple enough," he said. "Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don't. .."

"Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?"

Emily's family has been known to have mental illness.

Again, refusing to accept death, Emily does not release her father's body for three days after he died.

Section 3

Emily goes out with Homer Barron.

Barron admits that he is a homosexual and will never marry.

Emily buys poison without telling the druggist why she needs it.

Section 4

Homer leaves town.

After Homer leaves, Emily is not seen for six months. 

When she is seen again, her hair has turned completely gray. [When is that gray hair mentioned again?]

Emily buys some men's toiletries labeled HB.

Emily dies downstairs in a chair.

Section 5

The town already knew something was wrong in the room.

Of course, the rest of the story is the conclusion.

Through the unusual narration of events, the reader has to go back and reread the story to see what he missed before coming to the ending. What a fun read!  Never ordinary, Faulkner's rose for Emily was this masterpiece.

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