The Lottery Symbolism

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Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” focusses mostly on the customs associated with a small town. At the beginning the town gathers together to have their annual lottery. This is arranged by “families and households, women being assigned to the households of their husbands” (Oehlschlaeger). The lottery is conducted by Mr. Summers every year, he “[reads] the names- head of families first – and the men come up and take a paper out of the box” (Jackson). The man who drew the black dot would then have to have each person in his family draw again. Whoever drew the black dot this time would be stoned to death by the entire village. At first, this story seems like a fairy tale; it appears the winner of the lottery will receive some sort of jack pot. However, the person who is perceived as the winner is actually the loser. The theme of Jackson’s story is that social traditions that are practiced and accepted in this small town can have destructive consequences. This theme is developed by the symbolic objects and evolving of the characters throughout the story. Throughout “The Lottery,” there are a number of different symbols that relate to the story’s theme of acceptable social traditions have a destructive cost. You can see through these symbols that the rituals can have fatal effects on the town. All of the symbols show that “tension lies at the heart of the story” (Schuab). One such symbol would be the town square in which the villagers gather. The square could stand for a number of things, the first being “organization and construction” which is also mentioned as “the source of order” in the town (Schuab). “The people of the village gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock” (Jackson). This is where... ... middle of paper ... ... two of them are very much alike, and you can tell this was Jackson’s intention when writing the short story. Tessie can also be representative to any women or group of people who are treated as outcasts and feel unworthy because in “The Lottery,” “being cast out from the group implies death” (Schuab). Throughout the entire story Shirley Jackson did a great job of developing her theme through symbols and the identification of the characters. The qualities of the characters such as being round, flat, dynamic, and static help the reader get a feel of how they take part in the traditions of this small town. The objects that are used as symbols also relate to how the lottery was a long-lasting and accepted ritual that caused devastation in the town. Everyone has traditions that they are accustomed to; however; they don’t always end with a person being stoned to death.

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