Irony of The Setting in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
The setting set forth by Shirley Jackson in the beginning of The Lottery
creates a mood of peacefulness and tranquillity. This setting also creates an
image in the mind of the reader, the image of a typical town on a normal summer
day. Furthermore, Shirley Jackson uses the setting in The Lottery to foreshadow
an ironic ending.
First, Shirley Jackson begins The Lottery by establishing the setting.
To begin, she tells the reader what time of day and what time of year the story
takes place. This is important to get the reader to focus on what a typical day
it is in this small town. The time of day is set in the morning and the time of
year is early summer. She also describes that school has just recently let out
for summer break, letting the reader infer that the time of year is early summer.
The setting of the town is described by the author as that of any normal rural
community. Furthermore, she describes the grass as "richly green" and that "the
flowers were blooming profusely" (196). These descriptions of the surroundings
give the reader a serene felling about the town. Also, these descriptions make
the reader feel comfortable about the surroundings as if there was nothing wrong
in this quaint town.
Upon reading the first paragraph, Shirley Jackson describes the town in
general. The town is first mentioned in the opening paragraph where she sets
the location in the town square. She puts in perspective the location of the
square "between the post office and the bank" (196). This visualizes for the
reader what a small town this is, since everything seems to be centralized at or
near the town square. This is also key in that the town square is the location
for the remaining part of the story. The town square is an important location
for the setting since the ending of the story will be set in this location.
Also, Shirley Jackson creates a comfortable atmosphere while describing
the residents of the town. First, she describes the children gathering together
and breaking into "boisterous play"(196). Also, the children are described as
gathering rocks, which is an action of many normal children. She described the
men as gathering together and talking about "planting and rain, tractors and
taxes"(196). Finally, she describes the women of this community as "exchanging
bits of gossip"(196) which is a common stereotype of women. She creates a mood
for the reader of the town and residents of this town on a normal summer morning.
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