Symbolism and Setting in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

Symbolism and Setting in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

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Symbolism and Setting in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson


?The Lottery? by Shirley Jackson is a short story that without the symbolism of its characters, would amount to little more than an odd tale about a stoning. However, because
of what each character represents and the way the setting helps to magnify those
representations, it becomes a short story that is anything but short of meaning.
The first character is probably the most obviously
symbolic character of the story. Every word that leaves Old Man Warner?s
Mouth reeks of tradition. He never stops criticizing new ideas about the lottery, the way it is run, or complaining about how things have changed for the worst, etc., etc. When Mr. Adams tells him that the residents of a neighboring village are considering doing away with the lottery, he says they are ?a pack of crazy fools.?

After the Hutchinson family draws for the second time and he can hear people whisper about who they hope drew the spot, he is quick to point out ?It?s not the way it used to be, people aren?t the way they used to be.?

He probably reminds most readers of an older person he or she once knew always saying, ?Well in my day we did things differently?..? and ? What is wrong with kids these days? Why when I was a kid if I did that??.?

He is clinging to tradition, even some that are no longer observed, and totally unwilling to let go of the ones that are still practiced, in spite of how ludicrous they might be. It has always been done that way before so why change things now?
In ?the Lottery,? old Man Warner symbolizes everything that is wrong with tradition and really forces a person to consider some of the ridiculous things that we as members of society have done and or continue...


... middle of paper ...


... a single character in the story who could not be a next-door neighbor, a teacher or a co-worker. The setting is so real that there can be no doubt in a first time readers mind the story is taking place right here in America land of the free where things like this just do not happen. This makes the shock at the end of the story that much greater. The reader is forced to deal with the fact, that all these evils, authority that is too powerful, terrible traditions, cowardice, and indifference are taking place right here right now in our own backyards. The setting makes the ending so powerful because the reader cannot remove the unpleasantness of the story by saying ?That stuff doesn?t happen here.?

The combination of setting, symbolic characters and a surprisingly twisted ending make ?The Lottery? by Shirley Jackson a truly powerful and thought provoking story.

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