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8 Gripping Instances of Foreshadowing in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

8 Instances of Foreshadowing in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
Foreshadowing is an interesting literary technique used by writers to help the reader infer certain elements of the plot or provide an inkling of forthcoming events in the storyline. Buzzle cites such examples of foreshadowing in Harper Lee's much-acclaimed 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
Neha B Deshpande
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Did You Know?
Go Set a Watchman, is another book of Harper Lee, which is due to be released on July 14, 2015. This book portrays the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, twenty years later. It describes the struggles of Scout, when she returns to Maycomb to visit her father.
Foreshadowing is a narrative element used by an author to provide his/her readers with subtle hints of major events that probably will occur as the story-line of the novel progresses. Foreshadowing helps readers deduce certain plot elements that create the suspense or tension demanded by the plot. The much-acclaimed award-winning novel by Harper Lee, 'To Kill a Mockingbird', contains instances of foreshadowing that have known to have had a great effect on its readers.

Set against the backdrop of racial discrimination in America, this novel takes a satirical look at the evils of race and prejudice that plague society. For those who may be unfamiliar with the novel, here's the plot in brief.

The story revolves around the brother sister duo of Jem and Scout, kids of lawyer Atticus, who is also a widower, living in the town of Maycomb. The siblings are curious to get a glimpse of their mysterious neighbor 'Boo Radley', who visits the town during his vacations. In the meantime, Atticus decides to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, falsely accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell. The siblings too get embroiled in the case and end up endangering their lives. The unexpected turn of events exposes the kids to the harsh truths of racial discrimination, justice, and prejudice, that are existent in society.

The author Harper Lee has used foreshadowing to brilliantly portray racism as it should be portrayed. While some authors use subtle hints like gathering of dark clouds over the horizon, which indicate rough weather or impending trouble, other novelists are more direct and have a character mention a certain forthcoming instance. Here, we shall take a look at eight such instances of foreshadowing in 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.
Gifts and Kind Acts by Boo Radley - The Mysterious Neighbor.
Though people of Maycomb are suspicious about this character and spin tales about him, subtle hints are given to the reader that indicate that all these tales are untrue. Most elders do not speak about him; however, when the children discover gifts for them, find Jem's pants mended, the readers are given a hint that these actions may be performed by Radley, and he is unlike what people perceive him to be. And true to his nature, he protects Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell.
Killing of the Mad Dog
The shooting of the mad dog by Atticus is symbolic that perhaps, the accused Tom Robinson might meet the same fate. Coincidentally, the dog's name is Tom Johnson, which is quite similar to his name. This foreshadows that someone innocent is going to die.
Racial Discrimination
In the story, innocent Tom gets killed, simply because he is black. This also marks the struggle of black Americans for their freedom from slavery. Also, it indicates how innocence is killed simply in the name of racial discrimination, and people of the town simply assume that the crime was committed by Tom.
Bob Ewell's Attempt to Kill the Siblings
The vagabond Bob Ewell's nature is described by the fact that after the trial, he threatens Atticus of dire consequences, and eventually does not even spare his children, attempting to physically assault Scout and Jem.
Atticus Taking Up Tom's Case
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
Atticus describes and explains to his kids, what is courage in the real sense. He wants them to know, that it is very easy to simply pick up a gun, but very difficult to fight for something which is right. You might be ridiculed by everyone, but that is the correct thing to do. That foreshadows his action of taking up Tom's case, much to the dismay of everyone in the town.
Creating the Mood
The night was still. I could hear his breath coming easily beside me. Occasionally there was a sudden breeze that hit my bare legs, but it was all that remained of a promised windy night. This was the stillness before a thunderstorm.

The author creates anticipation by narrating the weather, which indicates that either a good or bad incident is probably going to occur.
Victimizing the Oppressed
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

This sentence foreshadows how society is cruel with the underprivileged, and deprive them of their rights. He teaches that it is a sin to declare the downtrodden as victims just because we have more power.
Prejudiced Behavior of Society
The behavior of the townspeople towards Boo Radley indicates how hypocritical society is, by victimizing someone without evidence, and branding that person wrong. This foreshadows Tom being convicted of rape, despite being innocent. The woman who accuses him lets him suffer simply to hide the fact that she made sexual advances towards him.