What foreshadows the discovery of the body of Homer Barron in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a two events that, in retrospect, clearly spell Homer's doom.  First, in Part III, the foreshadowing of Homer's demise is strongly implied when Emily purchases rat poison, a deadly arsenic.   The narrator, putting the pieces together, recounts her odd request.  Emily reportedly told the druggist: 

" 'I want some poison,'"

 "Why, of course," the druggist said.  "If that's what you want.  But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for."


Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up... When she opened the package at home there was written on the box. under the skull and bones: "For rats."

The double entendre should not be missed.  Clearly Emily perceives Homer as "a rat," worthy of her ire and justice. 

Later, in Part IV, after the poison purchase, the narrator recalls the sudden absence of Homer.  The man had become a vibrant fixture in town, even though no one understood why such a boisterous man would be at the side of the stoic Miss Emily.  The narrator recalls: 

"...(W)e were surprised when Homer Barron-the streets had been finished some time since-was gone.  We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off... And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron.  And of Miss Emily for some time."

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A Rose for Emily

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