Shirley Jackson The Lottery Rhetorical Analysis

871 Words4 Pages
Shirley Jackson uses rhetoric in her fictional short story “The Lottery” to criticize the perpetuation of outdated traditions. She creates a fictional example that includes enthymemes, intrinsic appeals, and extrinsic proofs between characters as well as in the narration to make her thematic argument that mindlessly keeping traditions is foolish. The lottery example is deliberately exaggerated to accentuate her argument and to present an honorable case that her audience will support. In doing this, Jackson establishes a strong kairos and demonstrates her ability to aptly use rhetoric to make an argument through fiction. Jackson utilizes the dialogue between characters to make some of her strongest points and appeals, particularly through…show more content…
When the twelve year old Nancy “[goes] forward switching her skirt, [taking] a slip daintily from the box,” the audience is struck by her innocence, making the subsequent death of her mother via the lottery outcome even more terrible and tragic. A still more effective example of Jackson’s appeals to pathos occurs at the end of the story, where “someone [gives] little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles” to join the crowd in stoning his mother. This moment is incredibly poignant and elevates the disgust and pity that the audience feels as the nature of the lottery is revealed. Little Davy is too young understand what is happening, and it is reasonable to assume that the rest of the characters have long since lost touch with the purpose of the lottery, as the only explanation the audience is given for its continuation is Warner’s statement that “there’s always been a lottery.” This remarkably insufficient excuse in support of such a heinous crime secures the sympathy of the audience towards not only Tessie’s plight but also Jackson’s argument. While real life traditions are rarely so extreme, Jackson’s exaggerated fictional example emphasizes her point to great effect. By the end of the story, the audience is convinced that the town is wrong to uphold the lottery tradition, but Jackson is not really writing about a lottery; she is writing about how damaging it can
Open Document