Foreshadowing in Afterward

Foreshadowing Examples in Afterward:

I 3

"Her short-sighted eyes had given her but a blurred impression of slightness and grayness, with something foreign, or at least unlocal,..."   (I)

Because Mary’s vision is poor, she can’t quite identify the person who is approaching their home. His obscured identity—and her husband’s dramatic reaction to the figure—suggest that his identity will eventually be revealed.

"I don’t want to have to drive ten miles to see somebody else’s ghost. I want one of my own on the premises...."   (I)

The phrasing of this line further emphasizes that the Boynes see history and tradition as a commodity to be purchased and owned. It is interesting to note that Ned Boyne is most interested in the ghost, possibly foreshadowing future events.

"“Well, there’s Lyng, in Dorsetshire. It belongs to Hugo’s cousins, and you can get it for a song.”..."   (I)

Dorsetshire is the archaic term for Dorset, a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. Lyng is the name given to the house. The colloquial idiom “You can get it for a song” means that something can be purchased very cheaply. Discerning readers will pause here to wonder why exactly this house is so inexpensive, as perhaps there is more to this house than meets the eye.

"it looked a mere blot of deeper gray in the grayness, and for an instant, as it moved toward her, her heart thumped to the thought, “It’s the ghost!”..."   (II)

Mary is quick to see the Lyng ghost—even welcoming its presence, since it makes their home more authentically Gothic. Again Mary’s weak sight betrays her, and the ghost does not appear. However, her continued mistaking of flesh-and-blood people for ghosts foreshadows the appearance of the actual ghost.

"paused with the air of a gentleman—perhaps a traveler—desirous of having it immediately known that his intrusion is involuntary...."   (III)

The origin of the man’s hesitancy to approach the home is unknown at this time. All Mary can tell about him is that he appears sophisticated and eventually does approach despite his original reluctance. Though not immediately clear, the purpose of the man’s visit will make itself known by the end of the story.

"Cimmerian night...."   (IV)

The Cimmerians mentioned here likely references the Cimmerians (Greek Kimmerioi) of Homer’s Odyssey, a civilization portrayed as living in a dark, foggy land near the entrance to Hades, the Greek underworld. In the 1930s, Cimmeria and its darkness would be adopted as the homeland of literature’s Conan the Barbarian. Invoking Cimmerian darkness suggests that Mary is considering the possibility that Ned is dead, or beyond her reach for some reason.