Sonnet 55

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Assignment 5
The Lottery

2. Analyze the description of the setting provided by the narrator: What kind of atmosphere is created? What are the images the narrator instills in your mind to solidify the atmosphere? In what way does the setting affect the story? Does it make you more or less likely to anticipate the ending?

From the beginning of “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson, the author, paints the picture of a small town in late June, “June 27th. . . . Around ten o’clock.”(Page 1) Jackson specifies other details about the town, such as the population and the length of the event. This shows that the author is attempting to create an image for readers of the story unfolding in an ordinary town with a traditional event, called The Lottery. The atmosphere the author creates is peaceful, yet emotionless. People in the town seem to have limited interactions among themselves and that is exceptionally strange in a small town with only three hundred citizens. The men gather to talk about "planting and rain, tractors and taxes. . . Their jokes are quiet and they smiled rather than laughed"(page1). Although they are communicating, their conversations aren't personal; the bulk of their conversations are “small talks.” The story starts with a vivid description of a beautiful day in a small town; "the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green"(page 1). These are images the author wants to emphasize with extreme details, just to ground the story in a world which we are all familiar with. These details create a great impact on the story and are what make the ending so shocking. Readers would anticipate the ending because we all want to know why a simple lottery event would require such detailed description, and why people possess an unusual uneasy feeling. The combination of these details and the anxiety of the characters gives the reader an excuse to anticipate an unexpected ending.

3. Were you surprised by the ending of the story? If not, at what point did you know what was going to happen? How does Jackson start to foreshadow the ending in paragraphs 2 and 3?

Though the details given and character anxieties fuel reader anticipation that something would happen in the story, the ending of the story is very shocking indeed. The author has gradually built the story on a world which we are all familiar with, but crushes it with the conclusion. Most readers should have sensed that there is something uncommon in this town through people's nervousness during the drawing of the lottery. That is when the readers are starting to wonder what exactly the "prize" of the lottery is. The author starts foreshadowing the ending in paragraphs two and three. One of the most obvious signs that something of major interference is on the minds of the town is the fact that, “school was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them."(Page 1) Most children welcome the beginning of summer eagerly, but summer holidays seem to worry the children and people are clearly stressing over something "important." Another example foreshadowing would be when Bobby Martin is stuffing "his pockets full of stones"(page 1) and other kids are "selecting the smoothest and the roundest stones" (page 1). The author is suggesting that the stones could play a significant role in the main event of the story. It isn't a big hint for the readers but it definitely helps build the suspense in the story, slowly leading the readers to the surprising ending. When the men who are gathering try to avoid the pile of stones, we are able to have a clearer view of the role of the stones, “they stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner."(Page 1) People are afraid of the stones, and they feel uncomfortable just standing next to them. It is these seemingly small, odd details and trails the author gives the characters that lead to the climax of the story.

4. Irony is a form of speech in...
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