The Unlucky Winner
In Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery”, the setting deceives the reader making them think the lottery is a typical annual social event held on a peaceful summer day. The whole town anxiously gathers together in the town square for the lottery. The names of the townspeople are called one at a time to come up and take a piece of paper from the box. When it is revealed who has drawn the only piece of paper that is not blank, a winner of the lottery is established. The story takes on a more mysterious and suspenseful tone as the reader realizes the lottery is in fact not the desirable situation one would expect. The story ends with the residents murdering an innocent person in a barbaric, sacrificial ritual. This paper will examine setting, character, theme, and conflict to explain Jackson’s view of humanity in this twisted tale. The story sets up the reader to expect good things from the lottery. The lottery is set in a very mundane town, where everyone knows everyone and individuals are typical. Jackson tells the reader what time of day and what time of year the story takes place to get the reader to focus on what a typical day it is in this small town (587). The morning is described as clear and sunny. The setting creates a mood of peacefulness and tranquility. The men are smiling as they gather together to talk about planting and rain, tractors and taxes. The women of this community are exchanging bits of gossip while the children are busy playing and collecting rocks (587). The townspeople presented to the reader are static characters because they are not very developed and do not experience a change in their personalities. Jackson uses ordinary people, so the reader can relate to the townspeople and families. They readily go along with the yearly tradition, seeing it as necessary and normal. She uses these simple characters to illustrate how a society is so willing to follow what is considered normal no matter what it is, while...
Cited: Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery”
The Story and Its Writer, 7thedition Ed. Ann Charters.
Boston: Bedford, 2007 587-593
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