Symbolism and Setting in the Lottery

Topics: The Lottery, Stoning, Shirley Jackson Pages: 3 (1114 words) Published: November 4, 2008
The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is a short story that without the symbolism of its characters, would amount to little more than an odd tale about a stoning. However, because of what each character represents and the way the setting helps to magnify those representations, it becomes a short story that is anything but short of meaning. The first character is probably the most obviously symbolic character of the story. Every word that leaves Old Man Warner’s Mouth reeks of tradition. He never stops criticizing new ideas about the lottery, the way it is run, or complaining about how things have changed for the worst, etc., etc. When Mr. Adams tells him that the residents of a neighboring village are considering doing away with the lottery, he says they are “a pack of crazy fools.” After the Hutchinson family draws for the second time and he can hear people whisper about who they hope drew the spot, he is quick to point out ”It’s not the way it used to be, people aren’t the way they used to be.” He probably reminds most readers of an older person he or she once knew always saying, “Well in my day we did things differently…..” and “ What is wrong with kids these days? Why when I was a kid if I did that…….” He is clinging to tradition, even some that are no longer observed, and totally unwilling to let go of the ones that are still practiced, in spite of how ludicrous they might be. It has always been done that way before so why change things now? In “the Lottery,” old Man Warner symbolizes everything that is wrong with tradition and really forces a person to consider some of the ridiculous things that we as members of society have done and or continue to do “because it has always been done that way.” Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves both symbolize authority and how it can be used to coerce the masses. While neither Mr. Graves nor Mr. Summers are tyrannical, awe inspiring, or otherwise persuasive leaders, the townspeople follow them. It is very probable that if the two of...
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