The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Short Story Synopsis
A Synopsis of The Lottery
In the short story The Lottery, there is a small town in America with only 300 people living there. The date is June 27, and everyone gathers for the lottery. The town’s children, who have no school in the summer, walk around and gather stones that they place in their pockets. Soon, all men, women, and children gather in the town square. Mr. Summers, a man sympathized because of his laborious life and his unpleasant wife, runs the town lottery. He and the postmaster, Mr. Graves, also gather in the town square. In his hands, Mr. Summers holds the black box containing all the lottery cards, although this black box is not the original. The original black box was lost several decades ago. He asks the residents if they should replace the current black box because of its poor condition, but they refuse to break tradition.
However, the residents agree to replace the traditional wood chips with regular paper. Mr. Summers randomizes the slips of paper, which he and Mr. Graves made the night before and locked up at Mr. Summers’ coal company. Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves create a list containing all families of the town. The town recalls that there also used to be a ritual salute taking place at this time, but it is now long gone. Tessie Hutchinson, the wife of Bill Hutchinson, runs hurriedly in order to make it in time for the lottery. She stands in the back of the crowd and tells another woman that she saw no one at her house, so she remembered the important date. She hears people scoffing at her once she realizes she is late. Clyde Dunbar is not present at the lottery because he has a broken leg. In his place is his wife, Mrs. Dunbar. Mrs. Dunbar would have had her son fill in his father’s position, but he is below the age of sixteen. Jack Watson says he is drawing for his mother and father. Mr. Summers makes sure that Old Man Warner, the town elder, is present for the event.
Subsequently, Mr. Summers takes a roll call of the town’s families. Old Man Warner and Mr. Summers then discuss how the village to the north has cancelled the lottery. Old Man Warner argues that canceling the lottery in this village would cause chaos and that they might as well go back to living in caves. Mr. Summers then hands out the paper slips to each family, but Bill Hutchinson has little time to grab one. Tessie Hutchinson is angry over this and deems it unfair since she and her husband also have three children. They allow the family to redo it, and Mr. Summers individually hands a slip of paper to each member of the Hutchinson family. The three children, Nancy, Bill Jr., and Dave show the crowd blank sheets. Bill also has a blank sheet, so Mr. Summers guarantees that Tessie has the black-spotted sheet. It turns out that she does have the marked sheet, and once again, she deems the lottery unfair. The residents enact a part of the lottery’s tradition that has not been forgotten. Everyone gathers stones, surrounds Tessie, and then they all stone her.
A View on the Real Language in Shirley Jackson’s the Possibility of Evil
The Real Language
“The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson is an intriguing story about an older lady who attempts to save her town but in turn becomes a contributor to its corruption The story begins with Miss Strangeworth, the story’s main character, on her way to the town store to buy groceries. Miss Strangeworth is well respected among the townspeople and seen as a matriarch of the community. As she takes her daily stroll, Miss Strangeworth greets and speaks to everyone she encounters on the way. During these conversations, Miss Strangeworth seems to genuinely care about her townspeople and enjoys their company, although this is not the case. In her town, Miss Strangeworth sees everyone she meets as evil and feels obligated to rid them of it. To do so, she writes a series of spiteful anonymous letters based on suspicion and opinion attempting to scare them straight. Unfortunately later in the story, Miss Strangeworth’s identity is eventually revealed after dropping one of her letters by the mailbox. When the letter is found it causes it’s reader to cut Miss Strangeworth’s prize roses, fueling the evil she hoped she would stop. Charlotte Bronte said,“The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.” Symbolism, character, and setting show that Miss Strangeworth criticizes the families in her town because she is secretly lonely.
Symbolism reveals Miss Strangeworth is lonely. Miss Strangeworth sends a basket of flowers to the new minister to decorate the church. Contrary to what many readers would expect she does not send roses but instead sends a basket of Gladiolus.Gladiolus are flowers that are known for symbolizing infatuation, showing the reader that Miss Strangeworth had a crush on the minister. If Miss Strangeworth has a crush on the minister, this supports the claim that she is lonely. In her house Miss Strangeworth sleeps with white roses next to her bed; the color white symbolizes sterility. Miss Strangeworth keeps white flowers by her bed, the reader can infer they represent her inability to have children, which could be another contributor to Miss Strangeworth’s loneliness. When Miss Strangeworth is at her desk writing her letters, she picks three different colors to write them in, two of them being pink and green. With these two colors, Miss Strangeworth writes four letters, two green sheets to Mrs.Harper and a pink sheet to Helen Crane and Don Crane. The color green symbolizes jealousy and pink symbolizes love and compassion, allowing the reader to infer that the pink letter written for Don Crane is a love letter and that she is also jealous of Mrs.Harper’s Marriage because she wrote two green letters addressed to her.
Character also reveals Miss Strangeworth is lonely. While at her desk Miss Strangeworth writes two pink letters, one to Helen, and one to Don Crane. Even though what is in Don Crane’s letter is unknown to the reader, the text says Miss Strangeworth is left,“ wondering curiously if he would show the letter to his wife.”(41 Jackson) Miss Strangeworth thinking that shows that she knows the letter she wrote to Mr.Crane was inappropriate, and that she should not send it,revealing that Miss Strangeworth is lustful . Miss Strangeworth’s lustfullness further proves that Don Crane’s letter is a love letter, and that Miss Strangeworth is secretly lonely. When Miss Strangeworth goes to the grocery store, the text says, “at last” after she says good morning to Mr. Lewis even though he’s lived in the town as long as Miss Strangeworth has.(5 Jackson)Miss Strangeworth and Mr.Lewis also attended the same high school and went multiple places together, but afterward they stopped speaking. Through characterization, this shows that Miss Strangeworth has known Mr.Lewis for a long time, but has been choosing not to speak to him until that day,revealing that Miss Strangeworth holds is stubborn and holds grudges. Miss Strangeworth and Mr.Lewis went to various places together, from this the reader can assume that during that time period they were dating. Based on the revelation that Miss Strangeworth is stubborn the reader can also infer that Mr.Lewis broke up with Miss Strangeworth and that she is still upset about it. With that information, Mr.Lewis can be penalized for Miss Strangeworth’s loneliness, since there is never any mentions or hints that Miss Strangeworth has been in another relationship.On her way back to her house Miss.Strangeworth stops four times, to talk to Helen Crane, to talk Miss Chandler, another time to talk to Billy Moore, and lastly to think about Linda Stewarts. Each one of these times except for her conversation with Miss Chandler, Miss. Strangeworth was either talking to or talking about a kid. Miss Strangeworth’s actions reveal that contrary to what the reader is convinced to believe, she is compassionate and cares about the children that live in her town. Miss Strangeworth’s is compassionate towards children because she wants to raise kids of her own. Usually when someone wants to be a parent they started mimicing parental behaviors to any kid they associate with. If Miss Strangeworth is playing parent to the children in her town, this further proves that she is lonely.
Setting reveals that Miss Strangeworth is lonely. Before her walk, Miss Strangeworth sends some gladiolus to the church minister. Gladiolus only grow in South Africa, which based on the setting of a little town and her house on Main Street means she had them imported. Meaning that not only did Miss Strangeworth have a crush on the new minister, she also went out of her way to show her affection towards him. Before Miss Strangeworth starts writing her letters she places a bowl of red roses on the window seal so the smell will linger across the house. The color red represents love, something that is provided with a family. If the scent of roses fills up the house, symbolically it has a setting of love due to its fragrance. With this information, the reader can infer that Miss Strangeworth leaves the roses out in the house to replace the love she lacks in the house due to her lack of family. It is made obvious to the reader that Miss Strangeworth’s house is two stories. Usually, families of four or larger live in two-story homes. Since Miss Strangeworth lives in the house by herself, it is easy for the reader to assume that her solidarity is a contributor to her loneliness.
On January 14, 2008, in Madera, California a teen girl named Brittany Navarra murdered her ex-boyfriend’s soon to be fiance. When Brittany was asked her reasoning for killing her ex’s fiance, she responded with she was jealous and lonely. In the story, Miss Strangeworth sent multiple hateful letters thinking her words would get rid of the evil in her town. The current supports my claim because it shows that people have very irrational thought processes when they are lonely. Which explains why Miss Strangeworth thought her actions were justified, even though they were just as evil as she believed her townspeople were.
How Shirley Jackson Uses Imagery in the Lottery
A successful work of literature is timeless and placeless. The themes and messages conveyed in a good piece of literature are important despite the era or place the reader is. A successful work of literature also allows readers to connect to the world surrounding them through a clear understanding of the picture the author has painted. A good literary work ought to have a positive social foundation by bringing in an apparent character development through the use of imagery. Moreover, exploration and evolution represents a critical component of literature. Character exploration is significant in fulfilling the quest to explain who we are, and we need to do. Elements such as those of motivation, passion, and psychological forces form part of a positive social foundation of literature. A beautiful work of literary art is, therefore, constituted by the quality of enjoyment of the reader and its overall effect on the life of its readers and the general public.
Good works of literature are often stunning incitement of something and at the same time being suitably ambiguous, that many individuals or groups of people can take personal offense at their implications. The story “The Lottery” has a pretty conventional way of reading it as it touches on both the fundamental human truth and offers a relatively little offense to anyone. The literary work, therefore, is a representation of human institutions that are authorized to continue unchallenged until they become destructive, instead of productive forces in the lives of individuals; hence it is a good piece of literature.
The lottery story commences with a sense of freedom to the children who are out of school. It is during the summer when villages begin to assemble in the square to hold a lottery. There is uncertainty about what the prize of the lottery would be at the end. The mystery of vagueness happens to continue throughout the story, setting the scene for future revelations as it should be the case in the initial situation. Shirley Jackson uses symbolic names to indicate and foreshadow what will probably take place after the lottery is conducted.
“The Lottery” presents a good example of a surprise ending in a successful work of literature. Surprise endings in pieces of literature are significant in giving the reader a delight, but that is not the case in Jackson’s story of human sacrifice. He gives the reader a hint that something harsh is taking place. For instance, the gathering of stones and rocks shows the crowd’s sense of nervousness even as the lottery proceeds. The surprise ending ion Jackson’s story, therefore, reveals the dark themes that include the warping effect on the community does not mind tradition.
Jackson uses the symbolism of names and objects to hold meaning to the religious and other significant activities in the lottery. The names of each character in the story hold significant implications to the lottery. The author utilizes the use of symbolic names to indicate and foreshadow the situation that will come to be after the lottery is conducted. For instance, Jackson uses the name “Dellacroix” which in the real sense means “of the cross.” The villages pronounced the name as “Dellacroy,” indicating that the people wrongly pronounced the word; hence provoking the Christian symbol of martyrdom. (Jackson 2). Moreover, “summers” is the sir name of the conductor of the lottery. Coincidentally, the lottery is conducted during the summer, and the assistant to Mr. Summer is “Mr. Graves.” The symbolic names are a hint that there would be a “grave” during the “summer.” The author, therefore, utilizes symbolic names to predict the winner’s prize. In the long run, the prize is a brutal stoning from the town’s people (Jackson 4).
The objects in the story are a representation of religious and symbolic meanings to the lottery. In the sentence, “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones,” is a depiction that young children were picking up stones that were smooth in nature while most stones were jagged and tapered. The smooth stones would lead to a slow death of someone as opposed to the sharp stones that would lead to a faster death. The author mentions that the children find it normal to participate in the murder incidence. The religious objects used are a black box that represents a key between life and death for every member of the townspeople. It is also an embodiment to the evil acts that have been executed in the past and the ones that are yet to happen. The three-legged stool, on the other hand, represents the Christian belief in three beings as one God. The representation of holiness and purity shows the manipulation of the townspeople to support the violence that will be done for religious reasons (Jackson 2).
The story is a shock to the readers as the story appears to be that of fiction but Christian persecution eventually happens, and readers cannot accept the horrific truth. In the beginning, the author paints the picture of an ordinary and innocent town before the lottery is conducted. The story was set in a small town in New England, and it is described that “the flowers were blossoming profusely, and the grass was richly green.” The surprise ending shows the destruction of the innocence of the town as the terrible stoning is witnessed.
In conclusion, the use of imagery in the story is persistent at Jackson implicates the truth through names, objects, and the setting. The story is still relevant in the contemporary society since the symbols used were never elaborately explained. The story emphasizes on tradition and religion, making it one of the darkest and most mysterious stories.