Violence And Symbolism In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

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“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is a short story about a small village and their annual tradition of the lottery. In the story, the lottery is held on June twenty-seventh, a warm summer day in the mid-morning. After some time, the lottery begins and the head of each individual family draws a paper from the black box. The family that draws the slip marked with a black circle is the Hutchison’s. Consequently, each member of the Hutchison family then draws a slip of paper which eventually reveals that the mother, Tessie Hutchinson, has received the marked slip. However, the winner of the lottery does not receive a prize or reward; instead the villager who draws the marked paper gets stoned to death by the other residents, and in this case, the…show more content…
The message of violence and victimization is first shown with foreshadowing. The violent death of Tessie Hutchinson is implied immediately when “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones” (Jackson). By having the children stuffing their pockets with stones as one of the first actions of the story, Jackson is clearly foreshadowing the death by stoning. Jackson again uses foreshadowing by having Tessie arrive late to the lottery with Mr. Summers saying, “Thought we were going to have to get on without you Tessie” (Jackson). The offhand comment of Mr. Summers about having to continue without Tessie uncannily foreshadows her being chosen as the victim and contributes to the ongoing theme of victimization. Another device that emboldens the theme of victimization is Jackson’s use of characterization. Jackson singles out the Hutchison’s as her victims, but she then focuses on Tessie who she has reveal her deepest survival instinct (Coulthard 35). Tessie’s instinct to survive leads her to argue to have her married daughter participate in the lottery with the Hutchison’s instead of with the daughter's husband’s family as per tradition. Tessie arguing for her daughter and daughter’s husband to draw with the…show more content…
The irony of the setting and the characters’ actions enforce the situation as being a mindless ritual. Jackson focuses on irony by explicitly saying that the Hutchison’s youngest son, Dave, drew his own slip of paper which could have labeled him to be stoned to death, reiterating the normality of the situation (Wagner-Martin). The tone of “The Lottery” is also crucial because Jackson uses a technique that intensifies the message of her story by introducing the shocking elements of the story as if they were normal, even if they are not (Wagner-Martin). Additionally, Jackson uses symbolism to emphasize the theme of tradition in “The Lottery”. The first sentence of the story shows that the events occur on June twenty seventh, which is symbolic, as it alludes to the summer solstice and the ancient rituals normally performed at that time (Nebeker). Next, the black box expresses the theme of following tradition because it had been used for years without being replaced and even includes pieces of the “original paraphernalia” (Jackson). Predominantly, “...the black box from which the slips of paper are drawn represent the villagers’ inability to change,” reiterating how the characters can not change even the smallest thing because it is tradition (Wilson 143). Even when the topic comes up to make a new box, it is ignored because “...no one liked to upset even as
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