In "A Rose for Emily," how can we interpret Miss Emily's death as a form of foreshadowing?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "A Rose for Emily," there is an atmosphere of the haunted South mixed with a certain nostalgia created by Faulkner's deft manipulation of time. This non-sequitur arrangement of the narrative, oddly contained in five sections that, rather than delineating time, point to the private woman, Emily, whom Faulkner describes as (1)"dear," (2) "inescapable," (3)"impervious," (4)"tranquil," and (5) "perverse" suggest that there is something irregular about Miss Emily. 

And, so, the first section opens with the description of Miss Emily Grierson as a virtual monument of the area, one whose funeral the entire town has attended, "the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument." Further, Faulkner writes that Miss Emily has always been

a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town....

Certainly, there is something obscure, ghostly, about this death of Miss Emily Grierson and the history of her latter life as described in the first secion that hints of the reclusiveness of her life and the mystery which surrounds it. For instance, in the first secion as the government of Colonel Sartoris is replaced by the next generation and Miss Emily is sent a formal letter regarding her taxes, she responds in "faded ink" that she "no longer went out at all" and the tax notice enclosed with no remark about it. 

Another passage that foreshadows the last section is the description of the old Grierson house when the deputation of aldermen call upon Miss Emily:

...when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly ....on a gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father.

Along with the description of Miss Emily's death as that of "a fallen monument," something honored, but old that has lost its prominence, there is in the presence of the "gilt" easel and portrait of Mr. Grierson the implication that Emily is of a notable Southern family, like the monument, owning an aristocratic position that also has become archaic and without significance to others. But, since Emily has always clung to her social position, having sacrificed too much for it, she cannot relinquish it or have it tarnished. Therefore, in the final secion, she clings to her name refusing to allow the Northerner Homer Barron to visibly embarrass her by his rejection, holding him in his death pose until she, too, becomes a "fallen monument."

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A Rose for Emily

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