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Foreshadowing in a Rose For Emily


Foreshadowing: A Rose for Emily William Faulkner’s short story ‘A Rose for Emily’ is today regarded as one of the seminal American short stories of the 20th century. The story’s plot is about reclusive Emily Grierson who ultimately poisons a man and keeps his corpse stored in the upstairs bedroom. In addition to symbolism and a variety of literary techniques, this story prominently implements foreshadowing. One of the most prominent uses of foreshadowing in the story occurs when Emily buys poison. In this instance, Faulkner writes, “’I want some poison,” she said.‘Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats and such? Id recom—‘ ‘I want the best you have. I dont care what kind.’The druggist named several. ‘Theyll kill anything up to an elephant. But what you want is—‘Arsenic,’ Miss Emily said” (Faulkner). In this interaction, it’s clear that there is considerable suspiciousness around Emily’s purchase of the poison; this would later foreshadow Homer’s death by this poison. Another prominent use of foreshadowing in this short story is through the smell that emanates from Emily’s house. Faulkner writes that, “It smelled of dust and disuse–a close, dank smell” (Faulkner). While early in the text it seems that this smell simply refers to an old woman’s home, as the plot unfolds one comes to recognize that this smell is foreshadowing the smell of a corpse that has been concealed in the house for many years. Still, another use of foreshadowing occurs as Emily keeps her door closed for many years. Faulkner writes, “From that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years” (Faulkner). Again, early in the text one imagines that this is merely the reclusive nature of an old woman; however, as the text unfolds it becomes clear that this foreshadows the finding of Homer’s dead body in the upstairs bedroom. Ultimately this foreshadowing forms the story’s rich texture.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” xroads. N.p., 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2012.

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