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The story's ending completely shocked me. Jackson (paragraphs 2 and 3) foreshadows the ending by telling us how the children—the boys—filled their pockets with the smoothest and roundest stones. The boys built a stone pile in one corner of the square, away from the crowd. Soon after, the men started to congregate, followed by the women and, then, the mothers. They stayed by their husbands and dialed the children's numbers. The gathering of the families was setting the scene for the upcoming lottery, which wanted every village member to be present. The rest of the village members would stone the lottery winner using the stones that the young boys piled up at the corner of the square.
Jackson also misleads us into thinking this was just an ordinary story about an ordinary town when he writes of the gathering of the villagers (paragraph 3). He tells us of how the men gather-as they survey their children- and speak of planting, rain, tractors, taxes while they smiled to the jokes they made. The women came shortly after as they gossiped and stood next to their husbands; they then began calling their children. This setting shows the gathering of families in the square which can be interpreted as an ordinary habit by the villagers.
The story takes place in the square- between the post office and the bank- at a certain village. The setting makes the reader visualize about the gathering of the villagers for an important occasion since every member of each family had to be present for the occasion. This setting in fact makes the reader anticipate for the ending of the story because one gets anxious to read the reason as to why the all villagers are meeting at a common place. One wonders what the occasion is.
There is differentiation of characters from one another by use of surnames. Each person belongs to a certain family line and has a unique surname such as Summers, Delacroix, Hutchinson, Graves, Martins, Watsons, Dunbar and Warner. Everybody belonged to a certain household. Tessie Hutchinson is the lottery winner because she picked a slip of paper that had a black spot while the rest of her family members picked blank slips of paper. The lottery rules stated that the person who picked the slip of paper with a black dot was automatically the winner.
The title “The Lottery” is very ironic since in a lottery, one wins by luck and awarded with a lump sum amount of money but in this story, we read of the stoning of the winner. The winner does not win any amount of money or prize but instead she is stoned. The opening paragraph is also ironic since the plot described shows beauty of the day and village. The setting also shows the gathering of the villagers in the square but no negative mood or vibes are expressed. This is ironic since the day would end up being a sad one for some family member because the villagers were meeting up to stone them. Irony is visible on the arrival of Mr. Summers when he talks of how little late he is as though he late for a very crucial meeting whereas he was conducting the picking out of a village member who would be stoned. It is also ironic how Mrs. Hutchinson wins the lottery yet she almost forgot what day it was and arrives late for the lottery.
Mr. Summer asking Mrs. Dunbar if she had a grown boy yet everyone in the village knew the answer perfectly well is another example of irony. It is ironic how someone tells Jack Watson not to be nervous yet it would be natural for one to be afraid since you never knew if the slit of paper you were to pick would be your death sentence. Old Man Warner says that it is nothing but trouble for those places that had already quit lotteries yet I see the lottery as trouble itself. The person who picked the paper with a black dot would be in trouble, the rest of the villagers stoned her.
The character “Hutchinson” is ironic as it shows how the woman of the house (Mrs. Hutchinson) arrives late to the gathering only for her to win the lottery. There is the allusion of “The Delacroix” as characters that follow the customs. This is visible through their son (Dickie) who is among the young boys who pile up stones at a corner while Mr. & Mrs. Delacroix are present at the gathering. There is also allusion of Mr. Graves as a responsible man since he is the postmaster, he made the slips of paper with Mr. Summers the night before and helped out little Dave to pick the slip of the paper from the back box. Bentham symbolized the villagers who were present for the lottery. Old Man Warner symbolized the old generation in the village who grew up practicing the lottery each year. Allusion shows Warner as an old-school man who does not love change. He reacts negatively to other villages abolishing the lottery; he also complains about the changing of the lottery’s rules. There is allusion in Martins being helpful. Mr. Martin and his son help Mr. Summer to hold the black box on the stool; Bobby Martins is among the boys who pile stones at the corner. Moreover, Mr. Martin has stored the black box at his grocery. Summers symbolizes leadership and responsibility. Mr. Summers is the official chair for the lottery, square dances, teen club and Halloween program. He is also responsible for the substitution of slips of paper for chips of wood due to the growth of the village’s population.
The black wooden box and black spot on the paper suggested the presence of darkness; something evil. Blackness was a mark of darkness; evil happened only in darkness thus the back sign was set to represent evilness. Description of the black box as battered is show that it is shuttered; the box is said to be very ancient and its color was fading. The picking of slips of paper by the villagers in a systematic manner symbolized the use of systems in activities to ensure there was no commotion. The calling of the villagers by name and giving each time to pick a slip of paper symbolized availability of fairness in conducting activities in the village.
The writer has an ironic attitude towards the lottery and the stoning. She is casual with the whole process. She sets the plot on a happy day when all villagers are required to gather at the square and talks of the lottery as just an ordinary activity whereas it is not. The lottery is an event set to pick out a villager who was to be stoned; a very sad occasion. The writer’s attitude is clear by how she writes of the village as an ordinary village and expresses the event as just an ordinary one yet a barbaric act was about to take place.
I see the lottery as a commentary on culture. The lottery represents some laws and traditions in practices. The use of a black box and stoning of the lottery winner shows the rituals practiced in the village. The method of selection is an example of a practice; the lottery winner is automatically the person who picks the slip of paper with a black dot. Representation of laws in the lottery is visible; a set of rules have to be followed, for example, the chair has to ensure all villagers are present; he has to salute everyone and call all by names to pick up a slip of paper from the black box. Traditions are visible when we read of the young boys picking up and piling stones, men have the authority to chair the lottery and representation of every household.
Jackson satirizes on the mode of making judgments in the past. Ancient people made decisions together and the wrongdoer was stoned to death; the stoning of the lottery winner satirizes this. The story also satirizes on the availability of institutions by mentioning of the coaling company; owned by Mr. Summer. Mrs. Hutchinson refuses to accept the lottery results and claims the process was not fair. Her attitude is satire to reaction by a loser in a competition; never conceding defeat. The villagers are calm as they pick the slips of paper and on checking of the papers as they fear the result; the fear of the unknown. Their calmness and nervousness by some satirizes attitude of people once they do not know what they are about to face.
https://sites.middlebury.edu/individualandthesociety/files/2010/09/jackson_lottery.pdf Accessed September 25, 2017
Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”
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