Sinister Symbols Within The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

1844 words - 8 pages

Throughout history with no specific date of origin, people have used objects to represent ideas. These objects of representation are known as symbols. Symbols are used in almost everything we see in our daily lives. They are often flashed right in front of us without us mentally taking notice of them. It takes observation and a comprehension of certain things to understand symbols. For example one might question why there is a bald eagle on the back of the quarter. Fact is the bald eagle is known to be a strong creature therefore is a symbolism of strength which is what the United States is known to be. There is a wide variety of different symbols. They may be colors such as white for purity and black for evil, they may be animals such as the bald eagle for strength, or even numbers such as the thirteen stripes on the United States flag symbolizing the original thirteen colonies.
In the short story “The Lottery” the story begins with noisy villagers gathering around for an event known to be the annual lottery. Once it is time to get started, silence surrounds what were once the voices of the villagers. Two men by the names of Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves stand in front of the audience and begin to call out family names. Slowly the villagers go up and select a paper from the mysterious black box that stands beside Mr. Summers. After everyone has selected their papers they each unfold them and hold them up in the air. A villager named Mr. Hutchinson turns out to have a sort of different paper though. His family is then told to redraw from the box and his wife turns out to be the lottery winner. Her prize is being stoned to death.
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Throughout her story, Shirley Jackson uses numerous symbols in which if thought about enough have a deeper, darker meaning. For example, the name of the man who hosts the lottery himself: Mr. Summers has a little more of a meaning than what the reader may think. It is known by the villagers that “lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” (“The Lottery 1968) This quote basically means that when there is a sacrificial ritual (or a lottery as the villagers call it) during the summer, crops will be bountiful come the crop season. In an article titled “Literary analysis essay” Martine suggests that because the lottery is held in the summer, and Mr. Summers is the one who hosts it all, he himself symbolizes the time of the lottery. In another article titled “‘The Lottery’-Names” it is also implied that Summers’s name “represents the season of growing, the season of life.” His name basically symbolizes the time for death for a villager but at the same time represents a time for life for crops which actually help the other villagers live on.
Mr. Summers does not work alone when he’s starting up the yearly ritual. He has an assistant named Mr. Graves who helps carry out the evil deeds. Like Mr. Summer’s name, Mr. Graves’s name symbolizes what occurs in the story. According to “’The Lottery’-Names”, “Mr. Graves symbolizes the...

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