The Lottery Symbolism Essay

1194 Words5 Pages

Symbolism in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," a seemingly idyllic small town participates in an annual ritual that turns out to be anything but benign. While the townspeople gather for the lottery with excitement and anticipation, the story's ominous undertones suggest that something terrible is about to happen. Through its use of symbolism, "The Lottery" reveals the dangers of blindly following tradition and the ways in which violence can become normalized in society. This essay will explore three key symbols in the story—the black box, the stones, and the lottery itself—and analyze how they contribute to our understanding of the story's broader themes. By examining the role of these symbols in "The Lottery," …show more content…

According to the story, "The tradition was led by Mr. Summers, who usually took care of village events, as well as Mr. Graves as the postmaster of the village. Mr. Summers came to the square with the black box in his hand that had been shabby" (Sianturi 140). This quote highlights the connection between Mr. Summers, who is the authority figure in charge of the lottery, and the black box, which contains the slips of paper that determine who will be stoned to death. The villagers, however, are deeply attached to the box as a symbol of their history and cultural heritage. As the story notes, "No one initiated to create a new black box because they did not want to infringe the tradition" (Sianturi 143). This refusal to change is evidence of the villagers' conservatism and their desire to preserve the past at all costs. Despite Mr. Summers' attempts to introduce a new box, "no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box" (Sianturi 144). This quote suggests that the black box has become a sacrosanct object, and any attempt to alter it would be seen as a threat to the very fabric of the community. The black box thus represents the authority of tradition and the limitations of change, two key themes that run throughout the …show more content…

The black box, the stones, and the lottery event itself serve as powerful symbols that underscore the story's critique of conformity, tradition, and the arbitrary nature of violence. Through these symbols, Jackson exposes the repressive nature of the villagers' adherence to tradition, which blinds them to the reality of their actions and prevents them from questioning the morality of the lottery's outcomes. "The Lottery" is a chilling warning against the perils of unthinking conformity and a powerful critique of the human tendency to become institutionalized into violent and oppressive societal

Open Document