The Lottery Tone

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The Lottery is a short story written by Shirley Jackson in 1948. This piece is widely regarded as one of the best examples of a suspense story and was one of the original stories to have a surprise ending. The story is set in a small town of about 300 people. The story is split into two distinct parts. The first, in which the reader does not understand what the lottery is about and the second in which the reader is able to understand the horrors that the lottery incurs. The story is split into these two parts due to a shift in tone that occurs. The Lottery undergoes one major tone shift from happy and carefree to psychological and detached, through this change the piece is given an overall tone that is iconoclastic in nature. The tone at the …show more content…

As the lottery commences, the mood of the people in the crowd shifts. The atmosphere goes from being rather joking to solemn once the lottery is underway. “The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions; most of them were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around”(265). This change from joking to not looking around is very abrupt. As such, it signifies to the reader that the tone is shifting from carefree to detached. Once the Hutchison’s have drawn the piece of paper with the black dot on it Tessie Hutchinson immediately begins to protest. The rest of the townsfolk are extraordinarily uncaring in her protests and claim that they all took the same risks that her family did. “"Be a good sport, Tessie." Mrs. Delacroix called, and Mrs. Graves said, "All of us took the same chance"(267). This illustrates the lack of empathy the other people of the town have for the Hutchison’s because it was not them who got the paper with the black dot on it. The reader can further see the psychologically detached behavior of the town in that even the children participate in the murder. “The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson few pebbles”(268). This line further allows the reader to understand the detached nature of the events in that Davy Hutchison was given some pebbles in which to use to stone his mother to death. …show more content…

Throughout the entire piece, the reader can see that the purpose Jackson had when writing this story was to convince people to examine the beliefs and traditions that they blindly followed. This shift in tone is also reflected in one of the major themes of the story. The theme that not all traditions are worth keeping is being portrayed by Jackson in The Lottery by using an iconoclastic tone. Many of the other towns nearby have already stopped their lotteries. “"Some places have already quit lotteries." Mrs. Adams said. "Nothing but trouble in that," Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools"(266). This shows how the older members of the town believe that the lottery needs to continue to occur and that ending it would be a foolhardy endeavor. The reason that they give for the continuation of the lottery is absurd. “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (266). This line shows that the original rationale for the lottery was based on the belief that the lottery would lead to a good harvest. However, today we recognize that killing someone does not increase the amount of corn that is produced. While the other towns in the area have began to end their lotteries and break away from the traditions the citizens in this specific town are still attempting to live in the past. Throughout the story you can see that the townspeople are not questioning the reasons behind the lottery,

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