top-rated free essay

The Lottery

By katherinediaz34 Jun 23, 2013 803 Words
The Lucky Ones
“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.”
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
Every year millions of people line up at gas stations and convenience stores with the ultimate desire to be the next winner of the lottery. The lottery is a tradition in our country, a tradition that has led to thousands of winners who are deemed “the lucky ones.” However, is following tradition always a good thing? Are the winners of this desirable lottery always so lucky? Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” employs a detached, unique tone and utilizes ambiguous symbolism to reveal the inhumanity of mindlessly following societal tradition.

“The Lottery” commences on the morning of June 27th, which “was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day” (Jackson par. 1). In this town “there’s always been a lottery”; every year the townspeople gather in the town square in order to conduct their traditional act of the lottery (Jackson par. 30). In the meantime, Jackson goes on to describe the intricate setting of “flowers blossoming profusely and the richly green grass” (Jackson par.2). She describes the young children participating in “boisterous play” and the mothers gathering together to “exchange bits of gossip”(Jackson par.2). Mr. Summers, “a round-faced, jovial man,” is the conductor of the lottery; however, people felt sorry for him because he has “no children and his wife was a scold” (Jackson par. 4). Once he declares the lottery open, Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson comes hurriedly to the square proclaiming that she “clean forgot what day it was” (Jackson par. 8). After Mr. Summers calls every head of the household up to retrieve a paper, the town realizes it is the Hutchinson’s who have been selected. Tessie immediately starts protesting, saying, “it wasn’t fair” (Jackson par. 45). Tessie then draws the final lottery paper; consequently, she was stoned to death. The tone of Jackson’s perturbing story, or “whatever leads us to infer the authors attitude,” is neutral and misleading, with an astonishing ending that is unexpected to the reader (Kennedy and Gioia 149).

The surrealism of this annual tradition is represented through Jackson's detached, unique tone. Her use of amiable language among the townspeople and the exemplification of the lottery as an event similar to “the square dances, the teenage club, and the Halloween program” illustrate the lottery as a hospitable, jubilant event. Jackson describes the communal ambience of the townspeople prior to the drawing: “The men began to gather, speaking of planting, rain, tractors, and taxes” (Jackson par. 3). The essence of this statement illustrates a nonchalant, ordinary tone, which exhibits fearlessness and apathy of the upcoming events. The lottery is orchestrated in a precise manner, and with excessive suspense by the townspeople; the reader is expecting the victor to be the recipient of a glorious award. However, it is not until the closing of this story when the reader apprehends the true undeniable fate of the winner.

Kennedy and Gioia explain, “objects that seem insignificant in themselves can take on a symbolic importance” (Kennedy and Gioia 224). The essence of their writing turns to be especially true in Jackson’s “The Lottery”, for it is the minor items that end up being the most significant symbols in this story. Jackson constructs this story with a multitude of ambiguous symbolism. One example of this is the black box, which is a paramount symbol of the townspeople’s ultimate parallel with tradition. Jackson explicitly describes the townspeople’s reaction when talking about the black box; he states, "No one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box" (Jackson par. 5). The essence of Jacksons writing here demonstrates the townspeople’s ultimate desire to always follow tradition regardless of anything. They believe that the present “box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it” and that’s what essentially keeps them connected to tradition. Furthermore, the title of this equivocal story is also simultaneously symbolic. For instance, society today associates the word “lottery” to be a good thing, representing a pathway that can lead to triumph. However, the lottery in this story has a far more treacherous meaning. The lottery is an ultimate reflection of the village life: deceptively innocuous, yet wildly malign.

In conclusion, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” employs the inhumanity of society and demonstrates the length mankind will go to never stray from tradition. What is particularly intriguing about tradition in “The Lottery” is that it seems to be perpetual; the townspeople cant pinpoint the beginning and they cant predict the ending. However, its apparent absence of history is what makes tradition so compelling; the people can’t envisage going against it. Through Jackson’s unique tone and ambiguous symbolism, we begin to distinguish the inhumanity of mindlessly following societal tradition.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • The Lottery

    ...Paul Fallon Professor Vladick College Writing II 27 March 2013 The Lottery Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is a short story about a small village that has an event every year called the lottery. Jackson does not let the reader know right away about the irony of the lottery; it is not something the villagers would want to win. Jackson does n...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...Literary Analysis Essay: The Lottery “The Lottery,” written by Shirley Jackson, is a short story about a strange annual ritual that takes place in a small village in New England. At the beginning of the story the day is described as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...FRANKLIN FOTOH ENGL 102 7/30/13 "The Lottery" by Jackson, is a short story which talks about a tradition which comes up once a year in a little village of about 300 natives. In the lottery process, one person is selected randomly and heinously stoned to death. Tessie Hutchinson is the victim of this social disturbing practice and she protes...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...Word Count: 933 The Lottery In the short story “The Lottery” the villagers gather together at the village square one day a year in the warm summer for the traditional Lottery. During the Lottery the head of household chooses a slip of paper in hopes their family is not the chosen one. As soon as the “winner” is announced the communit...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...07 December 2009 Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” – A Feminist Perspective Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” details the obvious gender roles in the small village where it takes place and also represents those that are often present in our own society. Women are often seen as inferior to men in societal groups. In ...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson In “The Hunger Games,” the district really never has a say so on that is selected, but yet everyone gathers to watch. Similarly in “The Lottery” villagers gather to select a ticket to find one villager to be stoned to death. In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, the events of the narrative seem to...

    Read More
  • The Lottery

    ...Irony of The Setting in The Lottery The setting set forth by Shirley Jackson in the beginning of The Lottery creates a mood of peacefulness and tranquillity. This setting also creates an image in the mind of the reader, the image of a typical town on a normal summer day. Furthermore, Shirley Jackson uses the setting in The Lottery to foreshad...

    Read More
  • The lottery

    ...story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson one begins to suspect something is “wrong” on page 516 when the townspeople begin to draw their slips. The tension in the air between the characters at this moment becomes much more clear and palpable. This part of the story makes the reader question what is really going on. The mood of the people c...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.