Foreshadowing in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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Foreshadowing in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

"The Lottery," a short story written by Shirley Jackson, is a tale about a disturbing social practice. The setting takes place in a small village consisting of about three hundred denizens. On June twenty-seventh of every year, the members of this traditional community hold a village-wide lottery in which everyone is expected to participate. Throughout the story, the reader gets an odd feeling regarding the residents and their annual practice. Not until the end does he or she gets to know what the lottery is about. Thus, from the beginning of the story until almost the end, there is an overwhelming sense that something terrible is about to happen due to the Jackson's effective use of foreshadowing through the depiction of characters and setting. Effective foreshadowing builds anticipation for the climax and ultimately the main theme of the story - the pointless nature of humanity regarding tradition and cruelty.

The first hint that insinuates the abnormality of this lottery is seen in the second paragraph of the story. The narrator describes the day as very lovely, but strikes a contrast between the pleasant atmosphere of the town and the activity of the people that are gathering in the square. "Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, a...

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...le contradicts the pleasant ambience of the town. When the foreshadowing job reaches its goal, it leads to the climatic point of the story. Through this climax, the reader sees the cruelty of the residents and how they undervalue life for this particular ritual.

Works Cited:

Jackson, Shirley. "The Lottery." Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. 5th ed. Ed. Laurence Perrine. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Publishers 1998.

Magill, Frank N. "Shirley Jackson." Critical Survey of Short Fiction. Salem Press, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. 1981. 1668-1674.

Nebeker, Helen C. 'The Lottery': Symbolic Tour de Force." American Literature 46 March 1974.
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