Destructive Traditions Within "The Lottery"
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", raises many questions in the back of a reader's mind towards the destructive yet blind rituals of mankind. "The Lottery" clearly expresses Jackson's feelings concerning mankind's evil nature hiding behind traditions and rituals. As her theme, she shows how coldness and lack of compassion in people can exhibit in situations regarding tradition and values. Jackson presents the theme of the short story with the use of symbols and setting. The setting of "The Lottery" supports the theme. Settings are constructed to help build the mood and foreshadow things to come. In the lottery, however, the setting ironically foreshadows exactly the opposite of what is to come. The story begins with a description of a seemingly cheerful environment. Jackson creates a comfortable atmosphere by describing the activities of the residents of the town. She describes children breaking into "boisterous play and their talk still of the classroom" (78). Men and women are gathered in the center of the town talking about farming, taxes or simply gossip. Jackson's description of the setting supports the theme of the story by showing how mankind is capable of cruel acts regardless of their environment. Symbolism in the story also supports the theme of "The Lottery". The very names of the characters in the story are laden with meaning. The names of Summers, Graves, Warner, Delacroix and Hutchinson hint at the true nature of the characters. Mrs. Delacroix's name means, "of the cross" in Latin; therefore, hinting at Tessie's sacrificial killing. Even though Mrs. Delacroix seems to be a friend to Mrs. Hutchinson, it is she who is shown to pick up the largest rock and promotes other people to stone Tessie. Mr. Summers' name symbolizes life but in reality it is he who is in charge of the lottery, which instead of giving life to its winner, it gives death. Graves is the man who carries in the black box and the...
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