What are 2 examples of foreshadowing used in the story "A Rose for Emily"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Faulkner's use of foreshadowing in his Gothic tale "A Rose for Emily" is arranged in a non-sequitur manner; this seems to add to the horror of the ending.

Here are two examples:

1. After the patriarch of the Grierson family dies, a few of the ladies have "the temerity to call"; however, Miss Emily meets them at the door with "no trace of grief on her face."

She informs the ladies that her father is not dead, and she repeats this denial for three days. Finally, she breaks down and allows her father's body to be carried out. Interestingly, the narrators add to this foreshadowing:

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

This strange incident hints at Miss Emily's strange relationship with death and her inability to let go—even when life has gone from her loved ones. It foreshadows the end of the story when Homer Barron's body is discovered in Miss Emily's house after her death.

2. There is a mysterious and malodorous smell around Miss Emily Grierson's house. When an elderly neighbor complains to old Judge Stevens, he asks, "But what will you have me do about it, madam?" The next day there are two more complaints. Finally, at midnight one evening, four men sneak around and sprinkle lime near the foundation, the cellar door, and all the outbuildings. When they recross the yard, the men see a light on in a window; Miss Emily's upright torso is "motionless as an idol." In a week or so, the smell is gone.

While the source of this odor is not determined, it foreshadows revelation at the end of the story when Homer Barron's body is found in an upstairs bed, his remains inside a nightshirt.

Read the study guide:
A Rose for Emily

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