Essay on The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson
1490 Words6 Pages
Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is a story littered with warnings and subtext about the dangers a submissive society can pose. While the opening is deceptively cheery and light Jackson uses an array of symbols and ominous syntax to help create the apprehensive and grim tone the story ends with. Her portrayal of the town folk as blindly following tradition represents the world during World War II when people’s failure to not mindlessly accept and heed authority lead to disastrous consequences. . Shirley Jackson uses a large array of techniques to help convey the idea that recklessly following and accepting traditions and orders can lead to disastrous consequences.
The opening paragraphs of the story contain a light and carefree tone…show more content…
As Tessie’s protests continue and the Hutchinson family prepares to draw again the sense of apprehension is one again mounting, this time fearing for whoever wins yet still not knowing what their “prize” will be. “The crowd was quiet. A girl whispered, ‘I hope it’s not Nancy’”, the silence and fear of the crowds manifests in the reader as the three children and their parents all draw slips of paper. Tessie “wins” the lottery and when the narrator explains “although the villagers had forgotten the ritual, and lost they original black box, they still remembered to use stones” (6) its suddenly shockingly clear to the readers what the winner is to receive. The drastic switch from a light and cheerful tone with talk of the beautiful day and children playing to the closing like of “and they were upon her” (7) is in part why this story is so effective. The unforeseen sinister end of the story makes the revelation of the tradition much more shocking and unsettling than had the reader known from the beginning what the outcome would be. Jackson very effectively builds a sense of apprehension and foreboding as she slowly cues the reader into the reality of the situation.
“The Lottery” has many symbols that help create the sinister and somber tone of the story. The black box from which the papers are drawn as well as the black dot on the paper are both symbolic of death. Black is a universally accepted
Tradition in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay
1229 Words5 Pages
Tradition; it is the back bone of every culture and civilization. It is what keeps the beliefs, philosophies, and activities of societies alive, to be passed down from generation to generation. However not all traditions are practiced with pure intentions. Some activities become so routine, people don’t know a life outside of them. Societies become so accustomed to “tradition” that they will participate in pastimes without questioning the ethics or morals of the situation. Ultimately when tradition takes the place of a rationalizing mind the outcome can be incredibly dangerous. The role of tradition is an underlying theme in the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, forcing readers to ask themselves “At what point do…show more content…
Now that all the papers are handed out the men begin to unfold the slips of paper to reveal blank pieces of paper. However one man is left with a paper with a black dot on it. The man unlucky enough to receive this slip of paper is Bill Hutchinson. Promptly Tessie Hutchinson, Bill’s wife, begins to panic saying he didn’t have enough time to pick his paper. Being a reasonable official Mr. Summers allows Hutchinson and each of his family members to reselect a paper. Bill, his two sons, one daughter, and wife Tessie each take a paper and Tessie Hutchinson is left with the paper with the black dot. The townspeople begin to clear a space around Tessie Hutchinson. One of the younger boys from earlier in the story hands her son a stone. While she screams “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” the townspeople begin stoning her, the lottery “winner”. Shirley Jackson’s use of characters is very detrimental to keeping the theme of the story lively. Whether they play a minor or significant role to the story each character reveals a lot of information about the tradition of the lottery and its intentions, varying from subtle to obvious details. One of the most important characters is Old Man Warner, an elderly man who is very conservative about the preservation of this tradition He holds it dearly to his heart, despite the fact that this tradition is slowly deteriorating in villages around him. Old Man Warner represents the stubborn nature of all the townspeople who are reluctant to