Discussion of Theme in “the Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

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Discussion of Theme in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, blind acceptance of tradition without question is presented throughout this story as the underlying theme. “The Lottery” is a tale about a town of people who hold a drawing in their town square. The result of this sweepstakes is the death of a resident of the town; the townsfolk stone the unlucky inhabitant to death because they believe that the sacrifice will ensure the town a profitable harvest each fall. Foreshadowing, symbolism and conflict work in conjunction to establish the theme of “The Lottery”.

Foreshadowing used throughout the story begins to expose the reader to the thought that something within the small town is amiss. The children in the square appear excited about the events about to unfold, and are enthusiastically searching for rocks to use during the ritual; they are filling their pockets in order to ensure they are ready when the time comes to begin. During the second paragraph, the narrator states that “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones” (539). The town has taught their children that this is a necessary, traditional part of their culture. Another example of foreshadowing in the text of “The Lottery” is the arrival of the protagonist, Tessie Hutchinson, who comes late to the traditional drawing. She is in a hurry, claiming to have temporarily forgotten where she was supposed to be. Mr. Summers foreshadows by saying that he “Thought we were going to have to get on without you” (540). Jackson once again presents the thought that the town will have to go on without her, although not simply because she has arrived late. This statement is presented in a cheerful manner by the gentleman who hosts the lottery for this small town, suggesting that nobody can perceive there may be a moral dilemma associated with this tradition. Tessie’s...
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