In the story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, the use of foreshadowing is used truly conspicuously. To foreshadow is to provide advanced indications to a future event or discovery.. The extremely strong dank scent about Ms. Emily’s house, the second floor of this residence being locked and the discovery of the iron grey hair, all are strong foreshadowing incidents that achieve this surprising and strong but also believable ending. Faulkner use of foreshadowing is used ingeniously to achieve a shocking and powerful yet certain ending
Ms. Emily lived in a white, square, seventies style house that is now rundown, un maintained, rotting and decaying. The inside of the house was said to smell like “dust and disuse – a close, dank smell.” Yet the scent smelt by 3 different neighbors was stronger than this, the stench was so rotten that it traveled into neighboring homes. As one neighbor complained and described the smell she said “… they were not surprised when the smell developed. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons.” Faulkner was trying to develop a scent so strong that it could only be that of a dead body. As Ms. Emily’s husband, Homer Barron had gone unseen ever since they were married, it foreshadows to the discovery of his dead body in the house. The foreshadowing helps to bring certainty and believability to the ending of this story.
Ms. Emily was occasionally seen through windows in her home sometimes on the second floor and sometimes on the main floor. As Ms. Emily grew old she started only to be seen on the main floor of her house, not ever on the second. People who would watch the house said “…she had evidently shut up the top floor of the house…” Faulkner wanted to make the reader wonder why the second floor was locked and not used. What could Ms. Emily be trying to hide? This is a development in the foreshadowing of the scent in the house, as this foreshadows the discovery of Homer Barron’s dead body locked away, upstairs in Ms. Emily’s house. Again this foreshadowing strengthens the certainty and believability to the ending of this story.
As Ms. Emily grew old, her hair turned gray. Her hair was described as “pepper-and-salt-iron-gray.” The eventual death of Ms. Emily would end the mystery of her life that all of the society had once wondered about. After her funeral and her burial, the town’s people broke down the locked upstairs door. Found was the deceased and decaying body of Homer Barron, but more closely on the pillow beside where his body laid, an indentation of a head and some strands of hair. The hair was shockingly described as “…a long strand of iron-gray hair.” All of Faulkner’s foreshadowing lead to this point, where the story came together. This hair foreshadows the untold part of the story, where Ms. Emily had kept Homer Barron’s body after he had died and had been sleeping with the body. This foreshadowing is extremely strong and serious as it is un-realistic in our ‘normal’ society.
Through the helpful foreshadowing events that lead to a strong and serious example, one can see how the use of foreshadowing brings about a cunning and serious yet a truthful ending. The use of foreshadowing can have a strong impact on story’s and novel’s it can change predictions, alter thoughts on characters and could leave an impression on the reader. In today’s ‘normal’ society this discovery in the story would mostly be seen as a weariness, but to the ‘macabre’ society this story may have been interpreted differently and would possibly appear normal to them.