Symbolism In "The Lottery" Essay

939 words - 4 pages

In the story, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, we are introduced to a small New England Town, which is not named. In the opening of the story, we are given a picture of summer. The beginning of the summer for most is usually a time of great expectations, planting of gardens, school getting out and the smell of the sweet flowers, carried by the breeze. In the short story “ The Lottery” it welcomes the reader with that image, it paints a picture that we are all familiar with. Within in this small New England town, there exists a sense of tradition; rebelliousness and conformity are just a few central themes that carry this story. One person speaks out about this savage tradition, others may agree, but no voice is raised to accompany the rebelliousness of one villager. In the end, they all follow the herd and partake in the sacrifice of their fellow villager. This paper will show the symbolism that supports the mentioned themes.

The Black Box, when we first hear about the box, we are still under the impression that box carries a joyful message for the winner of the lottery. The box represents tradition. However, we soon discover the tradition is a ritual, a ritual of human sacrifice. The box is indeed the messenger of death, holding the name of all the towns’ people in waiting of winning “ The lottery”. The color of the box is black; this color is associated with death as well. “There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here.” Making the reader aware of the longevity of this box and ritual. Jackson describes the box as being as being tattered and old in form, as in this sentence,” 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.” Jackson referring to the Black Box as growing shabbier and shabbier each year is a reference to the idea of this aged custom, stating that it is indeed flawed and ugly.

Rebellion is a crucial part of this story. When Tessie Hutchinson arrives late to the lottery, admitting that she forgot what day it was, she immediately stands out from the other villagers, as someone different and perhaps even threatening. Being late for the draw of The Lottery symbolizes a lack of respect for the tradition. Other women have arrived on time and have gathered with their families; Tessie...

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