Slips of Fate
In the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, the author uses irony to expand on a theme of traditions that continue although they are ludicrous and barbaric. “Like a lamb to slaughter” comes to mind for both the characters in this story and the reader. The characters are honoring a tradition that is handed down to them from former generations. The reader is led through the seemingly normal and quaint little village, and is taken on a ride of ironic horror as they slowly grasp the eventual fate of one inhabitant of the village. The title “The Lottery” implies a contest with a winner of some kind, like a sweepstakes. When in reality the winner is actually the loser or person that will die by stoning. The village, by all appearances, seems to be a normal and ordinary place with its inhabitants meeting in a square with festival like intentions. However, the villagers know fully that when the drawing is over, one person in the community will die. Nonetheless, it is tradition. The atmosphere is casual yet anxious. Tessie Hutchinson arrives late because she “clean forgot” what day it is. It seems impossible to the reader that anyone would forget a day like lottery day. Her procrastination is logical but her excuse is lame. Mrs. Dunbar tells her son, “I wish they’d hurry.” Her anxiousness seems due to dread. She wants the dreaded hour over and done with. However, Mr. Summers states “Let’s finish quickly.” as if there are other more important tasks that need doing. Nevertheless, perhaps he is unable to contain his excitement of this event. The postmaster’s name, Mr. Graves, is also rather ironic. Graves are associated with death and a grave will have to be dug for the so-called winner. Mrs. Adams states that “Some places have already quit lotteries.” Moreover, Old Man Warner replies, “Nothing but trouble in that,”...
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