Winning with Characters
Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” looked into what Seymour Lainhoff referred to as “savage behavior…” that he believes hides underneath society, even today. It was a tragic end to what seems like such a joyous occasion, taking us by surprise with the stoning of what seemed to be a good friend, dedicated wife, and mother. Jackson’s use of well-developed characters helped create a clear vision and belief that this may actually take place in society today. She provided an example of how to catch the readers’ imagination to take them on a journey. Jackson has a wonderful use of characters to help set the scene for this short story. Her use of the grouchy Old Man Warner gives us a view that the lottery is a long-standing tradition in the community and he feels it should continue, despite the actions of other communities to omit the archaic ritual. Lainhoff refers to Old Man Warner as a “reactionary advocate. . . “ for the lottery. One critic, Jennifer Hicks, refers to the use of Old Man Warner to establish the age of the ritual when she says, “. . . Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” Even Fritz Oehlschlaeger writes about Old Man Warner’s disgust at the mere mention of removing this long-standing tradition. Jacksons use of Old Man Warner is one of the examples of a well-developed character that she uses to help set the scene for the story. We all have that friend that we enjoy being around, but we believe they would stab us in the back if given a chance. Jackson uses this fear brilliantly when she introduces Mrs. Delacroix. Delacroix’s friendly banter with Tessie Hutchinson as Tessie arrived late to the lottery. And her eagerness to be the “. . .the most ferocious in her attack. . .” (Lainhoff). Her friendliness followed by her vicious aggression toward Tessie plays on our fears and helps us relate to the story. Finally, we meet Mrs. Hutchinson. Her late arrival due to being hard at work in the house, her...
Cited: Hicks, Jennifer. “The Lottery.” Short Stories for Students. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale, 1997. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
Lainhoff, Seymour. “Jackson’s ’The Lottery’,” Explicator. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale, 1997. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
Oehlschlaeger, Fritz. “The Stoning of Mistress Hutchinson: Meaning and Context in ’The Lottery’.” Essays in Literature. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale, 1997. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
Wilson, Kathleen, Ed. “The Lottery.” Short Stories for Students. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale, 1997. Web. 14 Nov 2013.
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