Examples of Foreshadowing in Literature

Short Stories for Teaching Foreshadowing in Literature

Foreshadowing in literature is an important device for creating suspense and hooking the reader. The following short stories with foreshadowing examples will facilitate the learning of this important literary device.

ELA Common Core Standards Covered

Teaching foreshadowing in short stories may cover the following ELA Common Core Standards.  This is for your administrator, not your kids.  Kids need student-friendly worded objectives.

  1. RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  2. RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
  3. RL.9-10.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  4. RL.9-10.5  Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Foreshadowing in Literature Defined

Foreshadowing in literature is hints given by the author of what will happen later. To demonstrate mastery of foreshadowing in literature, students must achieve five levels of understanding:

  1. They must be able to define foreshadowing – Level 1 is simple memorization. It is possible for students (or even a really smart monkey) to recite the definition without understanding it.
  2. Students should be able to identify foreshadowing – Level 2 eliminates the monkey. It shows the ability to apply the definition in a literary setting. Any high school student can do this with a bit of practice. Identification, however, falls short of mastery.
  3. Students should be able to substantiate predictions based on the author’s clues. Level 3 is really close to mastery. It requires high level thinking, even if the predictions are wrong. It falls short of mastery insomuch that the skill is only relevant as it pertains to a specific story
  4. Students should be able to determine the author’s purpose in using the foreshadowing – Level 4 indicates mastery of foreshadowing in literature. The ability to analyze author’s purpose facilitates critical thinking and will help individuals make sense of advertising, political speeches, editorials, and news reports. In short, knowing what the author’s purpose is will help them make informed decisions.
  5. Students should be able to use foreshadowing in their own writing for a specific purpose – Level 5 is difficult to measure.  Few students reach this mark and is a highly advanced skill.

Short Stories with Examples of Foreshadowing

The following short stories contain foreshadowing examples and, more importantly, delight young readers. For each short story, I’ve provided at least one foreshadowing example.

  • “The Birds” by Daphne Du Maurier begins “On December the third the wind changed overnight and it was winter.” The story’s protagonist remarks, “there are more birds about than usual…And daring. Some of them taking no notice of the tractor. One or two gulls came so close to my head this afternoon I thought they’d knock my cap off” (52). Creepy. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something bad is going to happen and the birds are part of it, especially if your copy of the story has a picture of several birds tearing apart a human being. A good lesson includes students listing foreshadowing examples that contribute to the ominous mood.
  • Need more Poe? I got Poe. 5 complete short story units. They’re teacher ready and student ready, which means your set for the next 5-7 weeks.

    Practically any short story by Edgar Allen Poe includes foreshadowing. For example, “The Cask of Amontillado” begins, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured on insult I vowed revenge” (6). I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to Fortunato, but I guess it will be unpleasant. The suspense lesson plan at the bottom of this page works well.
  • Hamlin Garland’s “Return of a Private” notes early on that “There were no hands greeting them at the station, no banks of gayly dressed ladies waving handkerchiefs and shouting “Bravo”” (112). The reader knows by page one that these privates returning home from the Civil War are in for a rough adjustment, drawing the reader’s attention to war’s frivolity and the futility of war zeal.
  • Eckles asks, in Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder,” “Does this safari guarantee I come back alive?” The reply: “We guarantee nothing!” There’s a good chance, based on this example of foreshadowing, that Eckels might get a little more than he bargains for on his safari.

Suspense Lesson Plan

I’m a big fan of charts.  This chart deals with suspense. This link connects to short stories for teaching suspense.

  1. Discuss how writers create suspense: (1) foreshadowing; (2) pacing; (3) dangerous action
  2. Create a two-column chart.
  3. In the left column write an example of how the author creates suspense.  In the right column, label it as pacing, dangerous action, or foreshadowing.

Check out this Suspense in the”Most Dangerous Game” chart. It’s a word document, so you can edit its contents to fit whatever story you wish.

Suspense Example

Example of Suspense

  1. The Black Cat begins with the narrator sitting in a cell talking about how he is about to be executed.

Type of Suspense

  1. Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing Examples Cited

My examples of foreshadowing in literature come from the following:

  1. Bradbury, Ray. “The Sound of Thunder.” The Language of Literature. Chicago: Macdougall Littell. 2002, pp 72-81.
  2. Du Maurier, Daphne. “The Birds.” Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2002, pp.51-82.
  3. Garland, Hamlin. “The Return of a Private.” Main-Travelled Roads. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1995, pp. 112-129.
  4. Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Cask of Amontillado.” Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2002, pp. 6-12.

Teaching Literary Elements with Short Stories

Understanding literary elements is necessary for literary analysis.  These short stories will help you teach literary elements.

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