I like to think that excellent literature has an after effect. The meaning sinks in and the story resonates even after you finish reading it.
One of the ways to create this effect in your writing is by foreshadowing — through the use of hints — the theme of the story or action that will occur later.
I experienced this “after effect” after reading “Of Mice and Men” a novel by John Steinbeck about two migrant workers — George and his developmentally disabled friend Lennie. The two friends, who dream of owning their own farm someday, take jobs at a ranch where a tragic accident destroys their hopes.
Early in the story, another worker named Candy is pressured to end the life of his sick, old dog. Another character, Carlson convinces Candy to let Carlson put the dog down.
Carlson demonstrates how he would do it:
“The way I’d shoot him, he wouldn’t feel nothing. I’d put the gun right there.” He pointed with his toe. “Right back of the head. He wouldn’t even quiver.”
Later Candy tells George:
“I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.” Read more