Symbolism In The Lottery

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Symbolism of the Lottery
In Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”, she emphasizes on tradition in a small town, which has been drastically lost throughout the years. The community holds on to tradition due to the fear of superstition of the harvesting of the crops. Symbolism is “the representation of something in symbolic form or the attribution of symbolic meaning or character to something” ( The villagers show the unwillingness to challenge tradition and superstition. They might mumble about other villages that have done away with lotteries. Their traditional actions include having even the children of the condemned person throw stones; seem to ensure that this tradition of human sacrifice will continue into the foreseeable future. Shirley Jackson uses symbolism throughout the story with the black box, lottery itself and characters names to foreshadow the terrifying outcome of the lottery which is death.
The first main symbol in the story is the black box. The black box symbolizes the darkness of ignorance that plagues the villagers of the community. They are reluctant to replace it even though it’s older than the oldest participating member of the lottery. Just as the community is unwilling to give up the ignorance of the old ways for the enlightenment of the new ways like some of the other communities have chosen to do. It also symbolizes the distraught tradition in the town and how it has changed over time. It is the center of the tradition because no matter how old and worn it gets, the villagers refuse to change it due to the tradition that it holds. The box has changed many of the villagers’s view of the lottery but no one can really remember how or why the tradition of the lottery began except to...

... middle of paper ... the story, the reasons for holding the lottery are long forgotten and the rituals connected to it. Other than the making of participant lists, the use of the old black box and the swearing in, have mostly fallen by the waste side. All that really remains is a rigid adherence to the ancient tradition of the town. The black box became the ultimate symbol of death, as it is the messenger that delivers the unfortunate winner’s prize, which is death. The momentum that came from the villagers’ extreme degree of self-interest further propels the storm of immoral and unethical actions. The terrible tradition was carried out once again. Instead of considering the effect that the tradition had on their fellow villager, they were grateful that the little black box had spared them their own lives. As far as they were concerned the sky was blue and the sun was still shining.
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