In the short 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 changes from merriness to agitation, which makes the reader also ponder about the strange proceedings of this event. When the citizens were being called up to get their slip, one by one, “they grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously” (p. 516). This displays the tension in the air between the people as they waited to be called for their slip.
The pacing at the beginning of the story starts off in an unhurried manner. It begins with the boys gathering in the square, then the girls, then the fathers, and lastly the mothers, “The children assembled first, of course… Soon the men began to gather… The women,… came shortly after their menfolk.” (p. 514). This slow pace creates a light, joyous mood. It makes it seem like everyone from the town is assembling for an event that everyone looks forward to. This also creates a very ironic tone because we later on find out that the assembly is in fact not something the people of the town look forward to. It is actually a ritual where someone is chosen randomly to be sacrificed and stoned to death. The word “lottery” itself adds on to the ironic tone because generally, the word “lottery” stands for winning something good. The reader goes into this story thinking that this lottery will have something good coming from it. However, towards the end the word is just a disguise for the bad ending and does not essentially have a positive meaning. Foreshadowing in “The Lottery” is seen all throughout the short story. As soon as the story originates we see foreshadowing when the boys start to make a pile of stones, “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones…...
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