Discussion Topic

Thesis Statements and Examples of Foreshadowing in "A Rose for Emily"

Summary:

In "A Rose for Emily," thesis statements could focus on themes like isolation, resistance to change, or the impact of societal expectations. Examples of foreshadowing include the smell from Emily's house, her purchase of arsenic, and the townspeople's comments about her reclusiveness, all hinting at the story's dark conclusion.

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What are some possible thesis statements for "A Rose for Emily"?

A thesis statement is a concise sentence or couple of sentences summarizing the main argument you are making in a paper. Before you develop a "thesis statement," you need a central argument. What sort of argument is appropriate to your paper depends on whether it is for an introductory literature survey, an advanced undergraduate course, or a graduate seminar.

For an introductory survey, the main point of your paper will be to show that you read and understood the story and thus you could make a simple claim to the effect that "Miss Emily" herself represents the Old South and the way it has decayed, as she herself evolves from a beautiful young women to a an eccentric and unattractive older women.

At a more advanced level, you should acquaint yourself with some of the vast body of criticism that has been written about the story and situate yourself within a specific critical school or context. For example, you could take a feminist approach arguing that Miss Emily is a subversive heroine or look at the way class structures limit the freedom of not only Miss Emily and her servant but other people of the town.

At the graduate level, you need to survey the existing criticism and either add to it or disagree with some aspect of it. This might mean focusing on a very narrow topic, such as the use of architectural detail or the significance of Miss Emily's refusal to have numbers affixed to her house. 

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What are some possible thesis statements for "A Rose for Emily"?

You might argue that Emily Grierson's fear of being abandoned and left alone (after her father drives away her suitors) compels her to hold on to her father's dead body after he perishes and murder her lover, Homer Barron, rather than risk his leaving her.  

You might instead argue that the story of Emily Grierson conveys the importance, even the necessity, of letting go: of the traditions of the Old South, of relationships that are no longer viable, of our old concepts of ourselves.  

Or, you could argue that William Faulker foreshadows the ending of Emily Grierson's story with the description of the horrible smell that once emanated from her property, a smell so bad that the Board of Aldermen sprinkled lime around her house to banish it, as well as Miss Emily's purchase of rat poison and her reluctance to admit what she planned to use it for, and, finally, with her attempt to hold on to her father's dead body even days after he had passed away.

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What are some possible thesis statements for "A Rose for Emily"?

In order to write good literary thesis statements, you need to consider two things: what choices does an author make, and how do those choices contribute to the meaning of the work.  Choices worth consideration in this novel include: the stream-of-consciousness narrator, by a third person narrator, who is of a younger generation of townspeople in comparison to Miss Emily; the five section structural divisions; the symbolism of things such as the house, her watch, and the sidewalks and house numbers, characterization of Miss Emily, her father, and Homer; the title of the story; selection of detail; and other figurative language.

Next you need to consider Faulkner's themes.  The story is about love and unrequited love, decay and death, murder, the generation gap, the history of the South, loneliness and isolation.

In order to write the thesis statement you need to think about what Faulkner is trying to say about the theme.  What is he saying about love?  The story illustrates the extremes that someone may be driven to in the face of the "loveless" life that Miss Emily's father created for her by driving all of her potential suitors.  What is Faulkner saying about the generation gap?  Miss Emily represents the standards and attitudes of the old south, and her inability to accept the changes of the new generation, leaving her even more isolated than ever.  Your essay would then discuss the specific literary choices that Faulkner makes to bring the theme to life.

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Can you help me with a thesis statement for a character analysis of "A Rose for Emily"?

Here are some ideas:

Like Miss Havisham of "Great Expectations," Miss Emily Grierson has made the decayed house on a once "select street" her prison in which she, too, spends a life sentence.  And, like Miss Havisham, she "knows nothing of the days of the week or the months of the year," losing touch with the outside world. Finally, she dies in this decayed house, along with her rotting lover.

So, could you make a case of Miss Emily becoming a prisoner to the mores of the Old South as she refuses to acknowledge a new world around her?  I believe you could.  Use the idea of prison in your thesis;  three points that you could support in this thesis are how she buries herself in time through physical appearance, her treatment of others, and her desperate attempt keep her world intact within her home/prison by capturing Homer.  

Look at the physical description in the 6th paragraph and see her as symbolic of the death of a former age.  See how she locks herself away from the rest of the town, refusing admittance to the ladies, closing the "old Negro" into her world rather than allowing him to be a free man, etc. Like so many inmates who are in solitary confinement, she loses touch wilh reality until she, finally, creates one of her own (with Homer).

Emily Grierson is a captivating character--you can enjoy this assignment.

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What are some possible thesis statements for "A Rose for Emily"?

Regarded after her death as a "monument" by the townspeople Miss Emily Grierson represents the Southern lady of an antiquated and effete patriarchal system:

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris...remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity....Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.

Always under the dominance of her father, even after his death, Miss Emily plays the role of the Southern lady, dimissing the city authorities when they come to collect taxes on her property: "Show these gentlemen out."

Thus, there is little that Miss Emily does that demonstrates feminine empowerment.  She does, however, defy tradition for her by being seen with the Northern commoner Homer Barron; and, she claims him in the only relationship that she has known--that of herself with death.  The child of a dead patriarchal system, the daughter of a dead patriarch, Miss Emily becomes the wife of a dead man.  This death she freely chooses in a macabre act of feminism.

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What is a good thesis for the foreshadowing in "A Rose for Emily"?

You need to decide first what you want to say about the foreshadowing in the story. You also might want to consider events that occur earlier in the story than finding Homer's body. You could only use that if your thesis deals with foreshadowing that points to Emily sleeping beside Homer's corpse all these years. Emily's declining mental state is broad, and you would need again to give specific examples that show how Emily's mental state led to her keeping Homer's body with her.

I'm going to assume that you're writing about the events that foreshadow the gruesome discovery at the end of the story of a strand of Emily's hair beside Homer's corpse. You could start with a simple statement of what foreshadowing is: Foreshadowing creates an expectation of what will happen at a later time in a work of literature. You could also start with a specific reference to the title, author, and foreshadowing: In "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner, foreshadowing is used to prepare the reader for what will happen at the end of the story.

You might consider using some of the following for examples of foreshadowing found in the story: Emily won't allow anyone to take her father's corpse when he dies for three days; the smell from Emily's house; the description of Emily herself and her house.

For a complete explanation of what enotes has to offer, go to the links below. Good luck!

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Can you provide three examples of foreshadowing in "A Rose for Emily"?

  1. In section I of "A Rose for Emily" there is a comparison of the antiquated house with Emily as it lifts its "stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps." This description foreshadows the stubborn decay of Emily herself.  Like the Old South, she can no longer survive.
  2. In Section II there is a "smell that developed [that] was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and might Griersons."  Again, suggestions are made about the dying of the Old South and those who are vestiges of this way of life.
  3. Also in Section II, after Emily's father dies, she "told them [the ladies] that her father was not dead."  This statement is a response to the hint of #1 as well as a suggestion of Emily's burgeoning madness:  "We did not say she was crazy then."
  4. Section III opens with "She was sick for a long time.  When we saw her again her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows--sort of tragic and serene. This suggests that Emily, relieved of the oppression of her father, returns, perhaps to a younger state in her mind; now, as a young person she can do as she wants, and she does by going around with Homer Barron.
  5. Then, in Section IV there is very obvious foreshadowing with Emily's purchasing arsenic, "her face like a strained flag."
  6. In section IV, "for almost six months she did not appear on the streets" and her front door "remained closed," suggesting that she does not want others to know what goes on in her house.  Later, the townspeople learn why.
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Can you provide three examples of foreshadowing in "A Rose for Emily"?

One event that is foreshadowed is Emily's future refusal to part with Homer Barron.  Earlier in the telling of the story comes the passage where Emily's father died.  Her reaction when people come to the house to get her father's body is interesting:

"Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face.  She told them that her father was not dead.  She did that for three days."

Finally, she breaks down and lets them take her father's body, but, her reluctance to part with her beloved father, even if he was dead, directly foreshadows the entire Homer Barron situation that we discover at the end.  Another instance of foreshadowing is when Miss Emily buys the arsenic.  That foreshadows Homer's death.  She goes to the drug store, asks for arsenic, and when the pharmacist asks why, it states,

"Miiss 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."

Here is another instance of foreshadowing; she gets enough arsenic to "kill an elephant" as the druggst says, then refuses to say why she's getting it.  One last instance of foreshadowing is the smell that radiates from her house.  It is an awful smell, so bad that people sneak into her yard at night to apply lime to try to get the smell to go away.  That also foreshadows the horrific discovery at the end.

So yes, even though Faulkner's chronology in telling the story is confusing, and out of order, if you are watching for signs, there are clues to the disturbing ending.  I hope that helps!

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What are two examples of foreshadowing in "A Rose for Emily"?

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.

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