William Faulkner paints a tragic tale about the inevitability of change and the futility of attempting to stop it in "A Rose for Emily". This story is about a lonely upper-class woman struggling with life and traditions in the Old South. Besides effective uses of literary techniques, such as symbolism and a first plural-person narrative style, Faulkner succeeds in creating a suspenseful and mysterious story by the use of foreshadowing, which gives a powerful description about death and the tragic struggle of the main character, Miss Emily. In general the use of foreshadowing often relates to events in a story, and few are attempted to describe character. Faulkner has effectively succeeded in both. The foreshadowing used in A Rose for Emily are referred to death, which is the more apparent than the second type of foreshadowing which describes the portrait of Miss Emily.
Death is first described in the first paragraph of the story and is repeated thereafter, the death of her father, of Colonel Sartoris, and finally of Homer Baron. The death of Homer, the climax of the story, is foretold by several layers of clues through the story. The first clue is the first description of Miss Emily, "a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending ...Her skeleton was small and spare...She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue...Her eyes...looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough" (508). Here is a description of the walking dead, a person who has been left to rot and decay, which is exactly the manner of death of Homer as will be told later. The color "black" is also used by Faulkner to describe dea...
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.... Emily has also refused to acknowledge the death of Colonel Sartoris in the first chapter. This is a tragically sad fate as it turns out in the end that Emily has been living with her dead lover (Homer) for more than 40 years in her life.
Faulkner has created a masterful piece of story telling in taking the reader through a suspenseful and captivating story. The effective use of foreshadowing does not diminish the climax of the story but rather enhance it by not giving out the details, but leaving it to the imagination of the reader. Through the organization of the structure of the storyline mixing with clever clues, Faulkner transforms Emily through the many tragic stages of her life and the ever-accompanying presence of death.
Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily". An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan, et al. 287-294.
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