Literary Analysis of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Although several themes exist in the Lottery, only a few remain significant. Mrs. Hutchinson, who apparently arrived just moments after 10 A. M. , ended up as the not so lucky person that received the black dot on her ticket. “Clean forgot what day it was…….. and then I looked out the window and the kids was gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running” (Jackson 3). She simply forgot the special event that took place that day and did nothing wrong. Never in the story did Shirley Jackson hint that Mrs. Hutchinson reeked of evil; however, she was punished brutally for no just picking a slip of paper out of some old, black box. Anyone in this small town, even the children, have the same chance of becoming the one murder victim. “Nancy was twelve, and her school friends breathed heavily as she went forward switching her skirt, and took a slip daintily from the box” (5). This goes for America’s society where any random person can be jailed or accused of something they were wrongly accused for.
Society punishes innocent citizens based on faulty accusations or just because they resemble an estranged serial killer. As soon as the news goes public, friends and even family members disown the “criminal” just like in the lottery where all of Mrs. Hutchinson’s friends turned on her. Mr. Summers, who interacted with Mrs. Hutchinson earlier, in a friendly manner, “…. and Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully. ‘Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie” (2) completely turned on Mrs. Hutchinson by the end of the story “All right, folks.
Let’s finish quickly. ” Even Mrs. Hutchinson’s own family turned on her. “The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson few pebbles” (6). To the whole population of the village, the lottery was a ritual that had became a huge aspect of the villagers lives and thought nothing of it. Just like American’s accept football as the countries favorite sport and Spainards accept bullfighting as a ritual, the villagers accepted the lottery. The author describes the black box, in which the slips rest in. 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” (1). However, the villagers refused to accept change and kept the same black box because it was a ritual for as long as they recall. The line from the story “The people had done it so many times that they only have listened to the directions” (3), illustrates how the lottery really filled out the word “ritual”. The villagers claim the black box was made from pieces of an older black box from many years ago.

Using stones and making family lists has been around for so long that they are part of a tradition, and no one ever wants to break a tradition. The actual lottery symbolizes irony. A lottery usually happens when a ticket is selected at random and whoever has the ticket receives a nice or in some cases, an extremely wonderful sum of money. In the Lottery, however, everyone dooms the day when they “win” this lottery because their own people murder them. Although not so obvious, foreshadowing is used in the Lottery by Shirley Jackson.
At the beginning of the story, the seemingly innocent children play with stones “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothes and roundest stones…” (1). Shirley Jackson presented the stones early in the story, but stones acted like a method of play until the end of the story where Mrs. Hutchinson was attacked by stones “ ‘It isn’t fair’ she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head” (6). Shirley Jackson keeps the audience intrigued by dragging out the results of the lottery until the very end where the real use of the stones are mentioned.

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