Symbolism in “The Lottery”
What is a symbol? A symbol is defined as person, place, or thing that suggests more than a literal meaning. In “The Lottery” there are 2 main symbols that really come to the reader’s attention. “The Lottery” is a short story written by Shirley Jackson. The story occurs on the morning of June 27th. It was a clear and sunny day in a village of about 300 people. All of the villagers began to gather into the town square to participate in a lottery run by Mr. Summers, who officiates at all the big civic events. When the children first arrive they begin to collect stones until their parents call them to order. Just as Mr. Summers begins to assemble the villagers Mrs. Hutchinson, the wife of Bill Hutchinson, arrives. Mr. Summers then starts to call the head of each household to the black wooden box to retrieve a slip of paper. The black wooden box is defiantly a major symbol in this story. Not only is it part of the lottery’s tradition but it also represents the illogic of the villagers’ loyalty to the box. “The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black wooden box now resting on the stool had been put to use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much as tradition as was represented by the black box.” (Page 259) The people believed that some of the pieces from the original lottery box may have been used to create the new box, but no one knows for certain. This may have been why the tradition of the lottery had been changed or forgotten over the years. “Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood Mr. Summers had argued, had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three...
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