The Lottery By Shirley Jackson-Full Analysis

“The Lottery” is a short story by Shirley Jackson that focuses on a village that has a tradition that they do every year. They believe that this tradition brings rain to the crops, but the catch is that they have to kill. The author shows us that long known traditions can deceive people into making bad decisions by using dialogue, character interaction and figurative language. In this article we are going to discuss on The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Summary, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson pdf, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson theme, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson analysis, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Symbolism.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Summary

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Summary

“The Lottery” is a short story by Shirley Jackson, that takes place in the past on a sunny July morning. What makes this story unique is that one day of every year a lottery must be held, due to the rising number of population. The people that live in this town have to attend the lottery every year no matter what. Every head of family must go up to the black box and draw a slip of paper from it, eventually singling out one marked paper. At the end of this particular lottery, a woman named Tessie has to have the unfortunate end of brutal death. The author uses this to teach us lessons about gratefulness; don’t take your life for-granted because it could end at any moment.

At the beginning of the day, right before the lottery is due to take place, the villagers run around greedily trying to find the most smooth and round rocks for the killing that is supposed to take place later on. As said in the story “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; Dellacroy eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of other boys.” This shows how ungrateful they are for their lives because all they are thinking about is killing someone else when those stones that they are gathering could end up killing them self.

Although it could be argued that the theme of this story is traditions and customs, the text actually says that the theme of this story is don’t take your life for granted. It shows even though the tradition is a big part of their lives, how even that doesn’t matter when you’re the one or family of the one that is going to get killed. As the story progresses, we find out that the people are ready to kill whoever the person is that is selected. But, this makes you think if they ever wonder if that person could perhaps be them.

Right before the lottery is about to start, Mrs. Hutchinson, a character in the story, came running in and said “Clean forgot what day it was. Thought my old man was out back stacking wood.” This goes to show how ungrateful the villagers are for the life that they have been given because even the adults don’t take this day seriously and they view it as not more important than any other day as they can just forget about it. Later on though, when one of their family member gets killed, I wonder whether they are regretting their decision to not take this event seriously and to not treasure the time that they had with their family members

Symbols and Concept: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Symbolism

The whole concept of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson sounds horrible and unnecessary, there are some reasons as to why it needs to happen. One, being how there is a continual rise of population and they can’t provide for all of the people that are living in in their village. Also, the lottery has been a tradition of many years, it seems unnatural to stop doing it after so many years, because the people are so used to it that they don’t pay any mind to it when another year rolls around. As Jackson states, “The whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.” This shows the details of the lottery, and how it is such a big part in the villagers lives, and also how they really can’t just leave the tradition one year. As said, “the lottery is such a huge tradition and part of their culture that they don’t know any other way to live.”

Jackson also uses figurative language to teach us a lesson about gratefulness. She uses figurative language to bring this lesson into context. One of the major elements that she used to show this lesson was imagery. For example, “The black box grew shabbier each year, by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained.” This really emphasizes the fact of how much this lottery, and this box, plays a huge role in their lives, and how it is the one thing that determines whether they die or not. She also uses this form of imagery to show how long this tradition has been going on, to show how many people have died unexpectedly, and how many people had more life to live. This also shows how the tradition has been going on for so long, and how it impacts their lives so much.

Jackson also uses repetition to show us how little the villagers are taking this event and how unthankful they are for the life that they have been given. For example, “The people separated good-humoredly to let her through,” and “soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson’s arrival.” This shows how unthankful they are for their lives because they are laughing and being funny in inappropriate moments. This sentence is also a really good example of repetition and showing the theme of this story. It helps to show how these adults are not really taking any of this event seriously, and how any of them, or their children could be brutally killed in just a few minutes.

At the end of the story, when the end of the lottery was coming near, a family was singled out to continue on with the lottery. From there, they went on drawing names from that family until they were left with just one, Tessie. It wasn’t until then that the shock really set in about what was happening, and how that family, just the day before, was living a normal life, and how now they were losing a member of their family due to the lottery. It goes to show that any moment your life could end, and to not take your life for granted because not everyone is as lucky as you.

Read Biographia Literaria analysis of Fancy and Imagination

The Lottery: Literary Analysis

“The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson is about a town in the past that has a sacrifice each year. When the lottery comes, each town member pulls out a slip out of the black box. Only one member will receive a slip with a black spot. That citizen is then killed, supposedly granting the town a better harvest. Some of the town are starting to believe this has gone on for too long.

A few members of the town spoke about how other villages have given up the tradition. “There’s always been a lottery.” “Some places have already quit the lottery.” Old Man Warner even says he’s done it for 77 years. The lottery has been with this town forever, but most don’t understand its meaning.

The black box has grown shabbier each year. It has become splintered and stained. The meaning for the tradition is like the black box. The original paraphernalia has been lost like the original black box.

At the end of the story Mrs. Hutchinson was picked. Her last words were, “this isn’t fair!” She finally saw how unnecessary the lottery is. The town would be significantly different without the lottery. Although it could be said the story is about the value of human life, it is clearly about traditions. The story said nothing about a citizens worth in the village.

The lottery has been with the town forever. The meaning it had has been lost and changed. Very little actually know its true purpose. The villagers follow the tradition blindly. It’s no longer a tradition, but a habit.

Theme of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

The theme of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson would be long known traditions can deceive people into making bad decisions. This is shown through the dialogue, the interaction between characters, and some figurative language.

One of the ways the theme is shown in the story is through the dialogue. The way it is shown is that most if not all of the village still believes in the lottery. As they talk to each other, they wonder who is going to be chosen, instead of showing fear that they might die on page one paragraph 3 , they show excitement to kill people for a better harvest.

Another way that they show the theme is the character interaction. In the beginning on the first page in the second paragraph, the little kids are picking up “good smooth stones” to throw later. They might think that it might be a game or that its ok to kill people. As well as at the end of the story when they wail rocks at the lady.

The finale way is through figurative language, like symbols and repetition. Through symbolism, we see that the black box can represent death in a sense. People who are chosen from the box, get killed, and the color black is often associated with unjust or impure things such as murder.

Another way is through repetition. The obvious form of repetition is the black box being repeated again and again. But if you look closer the Old Man on page four the last two sentences says he’s been in the lottery “77 years” which is a long time, proving that the tradition has been around awhile.

While this could just mean that for 77 years of his life, most of it contained the lottery, which would mean that the tradition wasn’t around for that long, but earlier in the story it said that this was around “since we were a small village” implying that it has been around since the villages birth.

To summarize the theme of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, with the evidence from it, it’s a long tradition, a popular one, and a , morally messed up one. So don’t follow traditions like lost sheep just to fill the slot where a tradition should be just because it’s a famous one.

These articles are originally posted on Ms. DeVries’s Classroom Blog

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