Destruction by Conformity: An Analysis of Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'

718 Words3 Pages
The world is currently affected by the foulest illness of all: conformity. Many people are nervous to stray away from tradition in fear of being an outcast, even if that means following customs like racism and sexism, which causes chaos among the country. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” displays this morbid reality when a town of villagers gathers to obey their annual tradition. Although this event appears at first to be pleasant and festive, it soon becomes clear that the prize is not something of value. The “winner”, it turns out, will be stoned to death. The story closes as the villagers begin to throw rocks at a person from their own community. Jackson uses tone, symbolism, and irony to convey that conformity can cause destruction. One important stylistic device that Jackson uses is tone. She employs a pleasant and somewhat of a detached tone to mask the underlying face of destruction. She creates a calm mood, describing the morning of the lottery as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day” (284). The tone ties in with the setting, producing an enjoyable atmosphere. This strategy Jackson uses makes her readers feel safe, and that is why the end of the story is so shocking. The technique emphasizes the brutality and violence of the lottery…show more content…
The truth of the matter though is that traditions can be disastrous because they are perceived as respectable merely because they have been around for so long. In “The Lottery,” Jackson uses tone, symbolism, and irony to show the destruction that can be caused by conforming to a tradition or a custom. Just like the villagers’ annual lottery, discrimination has been around for a long time as well, but just because it has been around for so long, does not mean it should be implemented. People must learn to separate themselves from such practices so they can teach future generation’s better ethical
Open Document