Fear Of Death In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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The Lottery Throughout our existence we have always been frightened by death and its randomness. We ask questions like, “Why did he die and not her?” or “How could this have happened?” In the short story, The Lottery, Shirley Jackson uses plot, setting, and symbolism to advance the theme that we all have a fear of death and its capriciousness. Jackson uses plot to show death has no boundaries and it is totally haphazard. The villagers are literally living their lives on borrowed time due to the yearly culling as a result of the lottery. Jackson gives us insight to this when she pens, “’Seems like there’s no time at all between lotteries anymore,’ Mrs. Delacroix said to Mrs. Graves in the back row. ‘Seems like we got through with the last…show more content…
They are terrified to laugh in the presence of death lest it draw attention to them and they become the next victim. The children in the story have lived their whole lives in fear of death. Jackson shows this when she writes, “Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call to their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times.” (260). Most children have to be called a few times before they listen but four or five times shows the fear the lottery has instilled in…show more content…
The three legged stool seems innocuous at first glance but has a much deeper meaning. Jackson shows us her depth of thought when she jots down, “The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying a three-legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool, and when Mr. Summers said, ‘Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?’ there was a hesitation before two men, Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, came forward to hold the box steady on the stool while Mr. Summers stirred up the papers inside it.” (261). If the black box characterizes death then the three-legged stool embodies the balance of life and death. The blank white slips of paper, except for one with a black dot, are used to indiscriminately choose which of the villagers continue to live and who dies. Jackson gives us a little image as she writes, “Mr. Graves had selected the five slips and put them in the box, and he dropped all the papers but those onto the ground, where the breeze caught them and
ANDREWS 3 lifted them off.” (265). The slips of paper of embodying all those that escaped death fly away on the breeze as if they were little angels, while those remaining in the box are in
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