What are three examples of foreshadowing in the first six pages of "The Birds"? 

What are three examples of foreshadowing in the first six pages of "The Birds"?

 

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laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the story, Nat Hocken is at work on break, watching the birds. He thinks about their feeding behavior, which he describes as "without hunger, without desire."

Perhaps, thought Nat, a message comes to the birds in autumn, like a warning. Winter is coming. Many of them will perish. And like people who, apprehensive of death before their time, drive themselves to work or folly, the birds do likewise; tomorrow we shall die. The birds had been more restless than ever this fall of the year. Their agitation more remarked because the days were still.

Nat's impression of the birds foreshadows what happens later in the story. The birds on the last day of autumn are a warning to the people—many of whom will die after the birds start attacking. He even thinks that "tomorrow we will die," and that night is when the birds start aggressing the humans.

On the way home, Nat discusses the birds with Mr. Trigg, a farmer who dies later in the story. Mr. Trigg says:

“Yes,” said the farmer, “there are more birds about than usual. I have a notion the weather will change. It will be a hard winter. That’s why the birds are restless.” 

The farmer was right. That night the weather turned.

This foreshadows the upcoming problem with the birds by showing both that the birds' behavior has been changing and that there are more of them than usual. It also foreshadows Mr. Trigg's death when he discusses the hard winter. Because of the birds, it's harder than any of them expected.

Later, when he's lying in bed, Nat hears a tapping at the window and goes to investigate.

Then he heard the tapping on the windowpane. It continued until, irritated by the sound, Nat got out of bed and went to the window. He opened it; and as he did so, something brushed his hand, jabbing at his knuckles, grazing the skin. Then he saw the flutter of wings and the thing was gone again, over the roof, behind the cottage.

The aggressive action of the bird at the window foreshadows the aggressive attack of the birds later in the story. They're able to frame that night as a fluke when really it's the first volley in the upcoming attack. 

The increasing strangeness of the birds' behavior that the characters are able to explain away foreshadows the deadly events later in the story.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The attack on the children by 50 birds foreshadows that the bird attacks are not the random acts of a rogue bird or birds: all of these very ordinary birds appear to be angry in unison. Nat himself is a war vet, and the fact that one of the children must be bandaged after the attack foreshadows that the birds are declaring war on humankind:

His wife sat up in bed, one child asleep beside her; the smaller one in her arms, his face bandaged. . . . there was blood at the corners of his eyes.

The strange weather foreshadows the strange events that have already begun to occur with the night attack of the birds on both Nat and then on the children. While Nat tries to reassure himself that all is as it always has been, the weather says otherwise:

The ground was frozen solid, yet no snow had fallen; nothing had happened in the past hours but the coming of the east wind. It was unnatural, queer.  

The radio announcer who reports on the odd attacks of birds all over England foreshadows two of the story's themes, human hubris and humanity's ability to stubbornly cling to rationalism:

The announcer’s voice was smooth and suave; Nat had the impression that he treated the whole business as he would an elaborate joke.

Treating this seemingly coordinated aggression by the birds as a joke foreshadows the human inability to grasp and accept that they may no longer be accepted as the supreme rulers of the natural world by the rest of the animal kingdom. It also is an attempt to react rationally: what could birds attacking be to a "suave"(sophisticated) thinker but a jest? 

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early in "The Birds," Du Maurier frequently uses foreshadowing to build anticipation ahead of the birds' attack. One example of this comes in the second paragraph when Nat is eating his lunch and observing the birds from the cliff top:

The birds had been more restless than ever this fall of the year.

This is Du Maurier's first hint at the transformation of the birds' behaviour. Later on, Mr Trigg provides another example of foreshadowing when he relates an incident to Nat:

One or two gulls came so close to my head this afternoon I thought they'd knock my cap off!

These two examples, then, set the scene for the attacks: the birds are more restless and have come closer to humans than ever before.

Finally, Du Maurier uses foreshadowing through the character of Mrs Trigg. When Nat tells her about the attack on his house, for instance, she displays an attitude of scepticism:

"Sure they were real birds?" she said, smiling.

This scepticism foreshadows her own demise at the hands of the birds because it suggests that she might have lived, had she been more believing of Nat's obvious warning.