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Winners Will Be Executed Short Story Analysis

1396 words - 6 pages

Winning a lottery is a good thing, right? Someone buys a ticket, then scratches it off or waits to see if they hold the winning number in their hands. However, that is not the case in Shirley Jackson’s world of “The Lottery”. In her critically acclaimed short story, a small town gathers in the village square and draws a name out of a box, and the ‘winner’ of their lottery is brutally stoned to death. All of this is done in a calm and orderly fashion, as well as without question. The lottery is a yearly event, and has been done for ages. “All of us took the same chance,”(Jackson) was uttered by the victim of the story, Tessie Hutchinson, is all but true. The town lottery of death is mandatory for all of its residents, young and old. Of course, someone could imagine that a story as gory as this one would stir up at least some controversy. Readers of newspapers and magazines that published “The Lottery” were outraged, and many canceled their subscriptions. Their reaction to the unexpected plot twist in the story led them to question who would even dream up such an abomination. Their answer was a woman named Shirley Jackson, a writer known for her dislocated, lonely characters that paralleled her depressed, college-dropout self. She was described as always writing, and “The Lottery” is included in her only collection of short stories. Jackson was expressing the theme that a person’s greatest importance is themselves through foreshadowing, symbolism, and irony in her short story, “The Lottery”.
From the very beginning of the story, there are many elements that suggest foreshadowing. This is apparent from the way the villagers interact with the black box that chooses who shall ‘win’ the Lottery. No one wanted to touch it or go near it. The townspeople “keep their distance from the Lottery equipment and hesitate when Mr. Summers asks them to stead the black box so he can mix up the slips of paper inside”(Du Bose). They also “seem reluctant to get the winning ticket”(Hall), which clearly foreshadows that something bad will happen to the ‘winner’ of this lottery. Another feature is that Mr. Summers, the official of the Lottery, rushed Bill Hutchinson’s drawing of a paper lottery slip. “‘You didn’t give enough time to choose,’”(Jackson) cries his wife when her family is selected to have one of their number killed. Of course, none of the villagers worry about their fate until it is their family who is picked. Also, it was Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson who was late to the Lottery, having forgotten it was today and she couldn’t leave the dishes in the sink. It is her family that ‘wins’ the Lottery, and it is her that is stoned to death. The stones themselves also signify the fate of the Lottery ‘winner’: the children of the village were gathering them at the beginning of the story. In the end, they were used by everyone to stone Tessie, even by her little son Davy. The stones are smooth and blunt, and vary from stones so big that Dickie’s mother can barely lift...

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