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Analysis Of The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

1218 words - 5 pages

According to Anais Nin, a prominent Spanish author, "When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow. " Shirley Jackson was born in 1919 in San Francisco, California to Leslie and Geraldine Jackson. She is most well known for her short story titled “The Lottery” which was first published in The New Yorker to overwhelming and mixed reviews. The lottery, as portrayed in the short story, is a religious, annual ceremony in the afternoon of June 27. This event is said to be older than Old Man Warner and has lost most of its meaning. Every year, a “lucky” winner is blindly chosen with the use of a magical, black box to be stoned to ...view middle of the document...

The lottery is an ancient tradition filled with importance and meaning to the townspeople. When they learn that other cities are stopping the lottery, they are not able to fathom why. “Over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery." Old Man Warner snorted. "Pack of crazy fools," he said” (Jackson). Even though they themselves do not understand why they are conducting the lottery, they are criticizing the other towns for stopping it. “Old Man Warner, the embodiment of rigid tradition, seems to believe that the sacrifice is necessary to ensure sufficient food for the village, but the other villagers are maintaining the practice out of habit and sheer inertia” (Du Bose). This shows that the citizens think the lottery is necessary because of tradition even if they do not understand why.
Second, Shirley Jackson conveys her theme that people blindly follow traditions through the use of symbolism. At the beginning of the story, the date is said to be June 27th in the middle of summer. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green” (Jackson). This date is crucially important to the setting because not only does it show why these villagers are hosting the ceremony, but also represents the same day the Midsummer solstice ceremony took place in ancient towns and villages. “That they are not chosen at random is made obvious in the choice of the 27th of June as the date for the Midsummer solstice ceremony” (Schaub). This proves that the date of June the 27th was not chosen by random, but by careful planning by Ms. Shirley Jackson. Next, the way the author used names throughout the story are very important to the explanation of the theme. Most of the prominent figures in the story have names that coincide to what is occuring in the plot. For example, Mr. Graves represents death and funeral, the end result of lottery and is the only person that can assist Mr. Summers. Mr. Summers’ name coincides to the season in which the ceremony occurs, a time of happiness, and shows the contrast between the true meaning of the lottery. Last, Mrs. Delacroix’s name can be translated from French to mean “of the cross” a direct symbol that represents the death of innocent people in ancient times. “None but Mr Graves could best assist Mr Summers to preserve the ceremony...To crown it all the Delacroix are singled out as the most fervent participants in the...

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