Inhumanity And Symbolism In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

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“Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (Jackson). This is the key element behind the tradition in the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Jackson incorporated symbolism into her story to create mystery and thought. Jackson wrote to the San Francisco Chronicle in response to questions of the meaning, “Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives“ (Friedman). The symbolism in the story sparks our thoughts of human nature, tradition, and violence. The setting, the black box, the lottery…show more content…
The atmosphere in a small town on a warm, sunny June day gives the reader feeling of serenity: “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green” (Jackson). The small village atmosphere of three hundred people indicates familiarity and history with one another in the town (Jackson). Friedman made a statement about how the atmosphere of the story affects the reader’s expectations: “At first, the village appears to have a holiday atmosphere; and the reader’s expectations are that the lottery is a joyous occasion, ending with a happy surprise for some lucky individual.” Adding to the happy feeling, the location, where the lottery is being held, is also where the other “civic activities” like club meetings and holiday celebrations are held. This location gives people the opportunity to dismiss the consequence of the upcoming event. Men and women were carrying on everyday conversations, while their children were casually laughing and playing with stones. Jackson best represents the casual tone of the story with the statement “… the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.” As the time moves closer to the ritual of the lottery, the townspeople start to become quieter and some even experience hesitation knowing what is to come

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