In"A Rose for Emily," despite the story's confusing sequence, many events are foreshadowed. How do certain examples of foreshadowing enrich the story?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," has the past framed by the present, indicating the tremendous effects of what has happened upon the present. And, yet, there seems at times a blurring of this past into the present as Miss Emily is described as "a tradition, a duty, and a care, a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town...." Indeed, Miss Emily herself is an embodiment of the past with the present.

  • Because her father has paid no taxes, Emily, "the tradition," believes that she owes none. And, when her father dies, Emily stands before the fireplace where a gilt frame holds the portrait of her father as she wears his gold watch and chain, still under his influence as she obdurately refuses to pay taxes, telling the aldermen to consult with Colonel Sartoris, who has been dead for ten years.  This sense of moral superiority certainly foreshadows her act of murdering Homer Barton in order to retain him since Miss Emily feels herself entitled to acting as she does
  • The overpowering influence of Emily's father also affects Emily's motives. For instance, in Section 2, the townspeople suggest that Miss Emily clings to her father even in death because

with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.

  • This action of clinging to her father's body foreshadows Emily's clinging to the body of Homer, who also leaves her "with nothing left," in a latter section.
  • Of course, the purchase of arsenic hints at a sinister deed. For, not only does Miss Emily purchase this poison, but she does not divulge for whom the arsenic is planned, instead staring down the druggist.
  • The odd smell that emanates from the house of Miss Emily is also a detective's clue.  Mentioned in Section 2, it foreshadows the decay upon the pillow of Homer.


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A Rose for Emily

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