Characters, And Symbolism In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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Thousands of stories are written and published every year but only few become ingrained into millions of readers minds. What makes a story so memorable? For most good books and short stories, there is always a universal message or theme that draws interest and captivates an audience. Jackson’s “The Lottery” is no exception. “The Lottery” is celebrated as one of the most controversial and brilliant short stories of the 20th century. Using characters, symbols, and irony, “The Lottery” shares insight into the human condition; no matter how morally corrupt something might be, people will go along with anything that society or the community deems as the norm. To begin with, the speech and actions of the characters play an important role in the …show more content…
The lottery represents the annual traditions put in place by society. People often find themselves participating in the same event, such as holidays, every year. Some holidays are repeated because of religion, but what about holidays like the 4th of July? The reason the characters participate in the lottery every year is the same reason people celebrate some holidays today, because that is how it has always been. There has always been a 4th of July, a Valentine’s day, and a mother’s and father’s day. Nobody question why people dress up in costume and hand out candy to kids on Halloween. Most people do not know why it is celebrated, but every year millions of people participate. Society for the most part, determines what traditions are followed and how they are followed. There doesn’t need to be a reason as long as people blindly follow it. Not only are the characters in “The Lottery” willing to kill every year for it, but they do not know the origins or why they do it. The original black box had been lost way before Old Man Warner was born (261). Even a big part of the ritual of the lottery had been forgotten, “There was the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summer by the postmaster, as the official of the lottery; at one time, some people remembered, there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery … but years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed …show more content…
The lottery itself is full of irony. The lottery is held on a clear and sunny day, and conducted by a man named Mr. Summers (260). When people think of a lottery, they tend to think about prizes, not stones. It implies someone is going to win a prize, not lose their life. The irony in the story helps to set up the theme. It gives the reader a feeling that they have been deceived when the stones are thrown. The irony of the lottery is a mirror of how society deceives people. The characters think that their doing what their supposed to. Even Old Man Warner believes in the superstition, “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (264). Nobody questions it, in fact the characters are so afraid to change that they drop the conversation when Mr. Summers talks about making a new box (261). The characters are deceived into believing that the lottery is

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