Symbolism In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” tells the story of a village during midsummer participating in a ritual that is done every year without question; while this village is trying to become a modern town, it also cannot deal with the changing of the times. The result of this unquestioned ritual is the death of one of the village people as a sacrifice for the entire village’s “benefit”. Many details in this story, such as the time the story is set, the props used during the ritual, the condition of the sacrifices, and the names of the townspeople, illustrate the symbolism intertwined in a story about a ritualistic, but modernizing town. Symbolism is seen from the beginning of the story through the time the lottery takes place on “[t]he morning of June 27th” (Jackson 419). As explained by Helen Nebeker, the ritual is set during the summer because summer represents a “time of ancient excess and sacrifice” (Nebeker 102). An example of these tribal sacrifices are seen “[i]n Athens, each year in May, at the festival of the Thargelia, two victims, a man and a woman, were led out of the city and stoned to death” (Lenemaja 63), …show more content…

Although the village believes that they are progressing forward, one see that the village is actually reverting back to the rituals of the past, without questioning that ritual may not be ideal for their village anymore, seen when Jackson explains, “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones” (Jackson 425). The stones have another meaning because they are the “most ancient of sacrificial weapons” (Nebeker 102), leading one to see the importance of the use of rocks for the

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