The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

733 Words3 Pages
In Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” the use of the third-person dramatic point of view allow the readers to visualize themselves in a typical village spying on an annual lottery. However, in actuality they are about to realize that the subdued and ordinary townspeople have traditions that are much more sacred than a human life. Throughout the story, the third-person dramatic point of view contributes to the tone and idea as a result of Jackson’s effective use of language control, indifferent attitude, and characters’ dialogue.

Jackson’s choice of point of view enables her to shape the tone with language control. She uses linguistic such as, adjectives and adverbs sparingly to define characters. For example, “They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed “(Jackson 137). Here, the narrator’s lack of description of the townspeople sounds like the observation of a detached witness. Also, the author uses limited adverbs to describe the actions of the characters. For instance, “They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands” (Jackson 137). The use of simplified diction allows the narrator only to divulge characters’ conversations and actions, without intense description. Thus, the readers have to draw presumptions about the characters from the unemotional words the narrator conveys, which may leave them feeling uneasy. In doing so, the narrator reveals just enough details about the characters for the readers to establish the surrealism of the tone, which shows subdued and ordinary townspeople gathering for their annual traditional lottery. On the other hand, as the story progresses the absence of imp...

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...is so respected, only that traditions should never be given up. Also, the narrator never reports anything negative about the lottery which leads to its surprise ending. The idea of the story through the author’s chosen point of view narration causes the readers to rely on evidence in the dialogue to extract the crazy notion that traditions prevail over human life.

All and all, Jackson’s use of third-person dramatic point of view supports the attitude that subdued and ordinary people have traditions that overshadow the value of human life. The use of language control, the narrator’s indifferent attitude, and the characters’ dialogue proves the point that Jackson intends to present “The Lottery” in such a way that the final event is not disclosed until the very end. Truly it is not what is said, but what is unsaid that is most frightening to the readers.
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