The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Published: 2021-06-29 07:01:14
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Category: English

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In the short story, “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson uses imagery and symbolism to demonstrate that evil can be present in the most innocent environment, resulting in society being tainted with dark illusion.  That innocence has the ability to create a huge impact in one’s life. In life, we often fail to realize how sometimes simple objects can symbolize something overwhelmingly deep, dark and evil. In “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson uses simple objects like a box, few stones, some white slips of paper, to symbolize the narrow-mindedness and brutality that result from superstitious thinking. Jackson's mention of the black box throughout the story provides the reader with images that become symbolic of a meaningless and perverted tradition, resulting in death. In the beginning, the black box symbolized some kind of mystery, but as we go in the depth of the story, it symbolized of loathing of change. The fact that “The black box grew shabbier each year; by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained” (128) showed us that sometimes we as humans will cling tightly to what is known or familiar rather than welcoming change into our lives. The Black box also symbolized the traditions of the community. However, throughout the story, no one seemed to question the origin of the Black Box or even the tradition. As we go into more depth of the story, we figure out that Every year “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here” (128). It looked like the community was sacrificing their people every year for the sake of their crops. “Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything’s being done” (128). The people in the community we trying their very best to avoid any kind of change in the ritual. As they were afraid of what change will bring. No one really had any knowledge of how the lottery began. They just kept following, because that’s how it has always been done.  Furthermore, Jackson’s utilization of stones throughout the story provided imagery to help the reader have a better visual understanding of the story. The characters in the story had no sense of mercy in their hearts for each other. Even for a single second, they didn’t stop to think if they are doing something right or wrong. Instead, they just went towards her to start the stoning. "Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head" (132).  In the Mid-story, it seemed like that Mrs. Hutchinson and Mrs. Delacroix were pretty good friends as they were chatting and laughing. “Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square, her sweater thrown over her shoulders, and slid into place in the back of the crowd. “Clean forgot what day it was,” she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly” (128).   However, Mrs. Delacroix seemed pretty excited and happy at the ceremony. Also, she was the one who picked up the heaviest stone for the Brutal Stoning Ceremony of Mrs. Hutchinson. Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. “Come on,” she said. “Hurry up” (132).  Stoning people is not just a horrifying death to imagine. However, it’s also a crowd-generated death. In other terms, this tradition demonstrates that everyone in the village shows the willingness to participate freely in the ritual.

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