In "A Rose for Emily" what forshadowing of the discovery of the body of Homer Barron are we given earlier in the story?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first hint is the mentioning of the smell that occurred.  Faulkner brings this up pretty quickly in the story, only after mentioning her death and her vanquishing of the tax alderment.  There is a long passage that describes the smell emanating from her house, which started "a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believed would marry her--had deserted her". The clues are there, we just don't see the connection quite yet.  The next hint is the fact that after her father died, she was in complete denial and wouldn't release his body.  She "did that for three days" before "she broke down" and allowed them to take the body away.  Again, not a connection to be made yet, but definitely hints at her disturbing tendency to hang on to dead bodies for a long time, and be in denial about their deaths.

The most obvious hint comes when she buys arsenic, and then Homer Barron disappears soon thereafter.  It is then that we can start piecing things together; we can assume the arsenic was for him, that the smell was him, and if we are very insightful, make a connection between the toiletries she bought for him, and her father's death, and maybe draw conclusions.

Those hints are there, and especially clear after a second reading of the story; with a first reading it is more difficult, but that is why it is such a killer ending.  :)

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first significant piece of information foreshadowing the discovery of Homer Barron's body concerns the awful smell permeating from Emily's home. The smell is so disgusting that the Board of Aldermen meet and have several men sprinkle lime around Emily's home and throughout her yard to cover the smell. The smell turns out to be Homer Barron's rotting corpse.

The second piece of information that foreshadows Homer Barron's unfortunate fate concerns Emily's possible mental instability. The community of Jefferson mentions that Emily's great-aunt had gone completely crazy, which corresponds to Emily's decision to murder Homer Barron. The third hint of Emily's mental instability is her refusal to acknowledge her father's death.

The fourth clue that foreshadows Homer's unfortunate fate is Emily's decision to buy arsenic, which she uses to poison him. The fifth clue that foreshadows Homer Barron's death concerns the comments he makes about refusing to get married.

At this point in the story, the reader is aware of Emily's fear of being alone, her attraction to Homer Barron, her history of mental instability, and her purchase of arsenic. These clues foreshadow that Emily murders Homer Barron, which results in the disturbing discovery at the end of the story.