Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" offers an almost classic study of irony of situation: the reader expects a celebration; she gets a stoning. Such a reversal is the work of careful planning by the author. The reader expects the lottery to be a celebration of some sort because Jackson describes the setting, details the activities of the townspeople, and refers to the lottery itself in terms that belie the outcome of the event.
First, Jackson establishes a setting which suggests that the lottery is, in fact a pleasant event. For example, Jackson describes a pleasant summer day in June, with flowers blooming, children at play and adults gathering in the town square (Jackson 245). Town centers historically have been and continue to be the gathering place for "events" and a description such as the one Jackson provides typically indicates a festive event, as in a town festival, political meeting, or a church social.
Then, she details what appears to be the normal activities of citizens as they assemble for nothing more extraordinary than a simple town meeting. As with many town meetings, the men folk congregate and pass the time with small talk about subjects that would be typical for the era. They speak of, "planting, rain, taxes and tractors" while, women pass the time with gossip (Jackson 245). Jackson describes the boys and girls acting similar to how boys and girls act today, boys roughhousing and the girls gathering for girl talk.
Finally, she permits references to the lottery itself, which imply that while it may be infrequent, it is also innocuous. Jackson lets us know that the townspeople have been participating in the lottery at least for 77 years. "Lottery in June, corn will be heavy soon" implies that the lottery is beneficial for the community (Jackson 248). The townspeople speak of the lottery in a matter-of-fact way indicating that they just want to proceed with the lottery in order to measure their ordinary... [continues]
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"The Lottery." StudyMode.com. 10, 2005. Accessed 10, 2005. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Lottery-68372.html.