The Lottery Themes

Shirley Jackson, the author of The Lottery, insinuated many methods and mechanisms of writing into her story to build suspense. Two of those methods were setting and imagery. Jackson set the story during the summer and described the sky as bright and clear.

The children were playing, and the adults were chatting. The author also used foreshadowing, an example is when the kids stacked a pile of rocks in the beginning. Word choice also proves to be useful in Jackson’s writing. Using word choice, setting, imagery, and foreshadowing, Shirley raises anticipation and builds suspense as the story goes on.

Shirley implies a happy environment despite the lottery-which is anything but happy-when she describes the setting as bright with children playing and adults chattering. It’s the beginning of a fairytale-like story and adds an effect of irony after the reader finds out the Lottery is a cruel event where one wins’ their death. The morning of June 17th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely, and the grass was richly green. this was the first sentence of the story. It doesn’t give off a gloomy, suspicious vibe as most horror stories do, but it instead the reader imagines a cheerful village unencumbered by any troubles on a sunny day.

The black box is a symbol. It represents death and faded tradition. Using imagery, Jackson describes the box as no longer completely black but splintered badly on the side…faded or stained.. She also stated Mr. Summers began talking about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything’s being done.. This quote proves the villagers don’t care much about the tradition and it slide annually as if it means nothing. Although the village has lost the true meaning and purpose of this relationship, they are afraid of change. Realizing this, the reader may feel horrified at the unmindful and inconsiderate villagers as they continue to murder each year.

Word choice and repetition the author uses has a different effect. For example, in paragraph 36 when Ms. Dunbar says I wish they’d hurry… I wish they’d hurry.. Ms. Dunbar repeats this twice to her son, and from the upset tone of her voice the author is showing she is desperate for them to finish. In paragraph 64, Jackson writes …her school friends breathed heavily as she went forward.. The sentence shows Nancy’s friends were very nervous about her result on the slip of paper. The tone of the story also shifts from a normal sunny day in a small village to a more tense, murderous vibe. It surprises the reader and helps raise suspense as the tone darkens.

Last-but not least, foreshadowing. In the beginning of the story, when the reader thought the story was going to be about normal life in a happy village, the kids were collecting and stacking rocks. It seems like an innocent deed by children just having fun. That all changes in paragraph 74 when the true purpose to revealed: The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready.. We see as we keep reading the villagers picking up the rocks and throwing them ruthlessly at Tess, the victim, to end her life. The rocks were a harbinger of death. Tess is also foreshadowed multiple times. When she arrives late to Lottery, it sets her apart from the rest of the family. In paragraph 9, Mrs. Hutchinson says, Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie. Later, Tessie ends up chosen, killed, and the village is forced to go on without her. The sentence Bobby Martin had already filled his pockets full of stone and the other boys soon followed his example gives us a hint of how the winner will die; they’ll be stoned to death.

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