Symbolism in the Lottery

Satisfactory Essays
Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is unquestionably a phenomenal, prestigious piece of fiction. Her short story depicted unusual, unreal, and bizarre events in common settings. In fact, Jackson wrote the story in only two hours and submitted it to “The New Yorker” (Roberts 140). Without major revisions, the story became a success and made many readers question the common traditions of time. In The Lottery, an annual sacrifice ceremony is held in a small town in which a selected person will get stoned and killed. In this selection, there are many appearances of symbolism. Some include the lottery “game” itself, the black box, and the characters. These symbols are used to enhance the theme of the story and create an ironic and suspenseful ending.
A symbol is “a specific word, idea, or object that may stand for ideas, values, persons, or ways of life” (Roberts1945). In the story The Lottery, the lottery “game” itself symbolizes a way of life. The lottery represents traditions that are passed down and followed blindly. In the story, the lottery has been an annual summer event in the village for as long as anyone can remember. During this event, the entire town gathers around and begins the ceremony. The family heads go forward and select a paper from the black box. Whoever receives the paper with the black mark will get stoned by the entire village. This is a very cruel, bizarre, and unusual tradition the citizens follow. It is a ritual that no one has the courage to go against because they have been practicing it for years. The result is an unfair murder of an innocent person by the hands of surrounding citizens. The lottery is an example of what can happen if traditions are not analyzed, questioned or changed by new generations.
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...popular. Shirley Jackson succeeded in writing a story that shocked the readers and gave them a new outlook on preserving traditions and imperfections of society. The human sacrifices that occur every year with the lottery show that some traditions are brutal and need to be reconsidered. Some of the symbolism such as the lottery, the black box, and the characters help bring about the theme of the short story. Ultimately, Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery shows just how individuals follow traditions and people in front of them by conforming to society.

Works Cited

Roberts, Edgar V., and Robert Zweig. "A Glossary of Important Literary Terms." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Boston: Longman, 2012. 1945. Print.
Roberts, Edgar V., and Robert Zweig. "The Lottery." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Boston: Longman, 2012. 140-45. Print.
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