Symbolism In The Lottery Essay

973 words - 4 pages

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is unquestionably a phenomenal, prestigious piece of fiction. Her short story depicted unusual, unreal, and bizarre events in common settings. In fact, Jackson wrote the story in only two hours and submitted it to “The New Yorker” (Roberts 140). Without major revisions, the story became a success and made many readers question the common traditions of time. In The Lottery, an annual sacrifice ceremony is held in a small town in which a selected person will get stoned and killed. In this selection, there are many appearances of symbolism. Some include the lottery “game” itself, the black box, and the characters. These symbols are used to enhance the theme of the story and create an ironic and suspenseful ending.
A symbol is “a specific word, idea, or object that may stand for ideas, values, persons, or ways of life” (Roberts1945). In the story The Lottery, the lottery “game” itself symbolizes a way of life. The lottery represents traditions that are passed down and followed blindly. In the story, the lottery has been an annual summer event in the village for as long as anyone can remember. During this event, the entire town gathers around and begins the ceremony. The family heads go forward and select a paper from the black box. Whoever receives the paper with the black mark will get stoned by the entire village. This is a very cruel, bizarre, and unusual tradition the citizens follow. It is a ritual that no one has the courage to go against because they have been practicing it for years. The result is an unfair murder of an innocent person by the hands of surrounding citizens. The lottery is an example of what can happen if traditions are not analyzed, questioned or changed by new generations.
In The Lottery the black box held a great significance. The black box is a physical symbol that represents the villagers’ connection to the tradition of the lottery. The box was used by Mr. Summers for many years and is believed to made up of pieces of boxes used in the past, dating all the way back to the first lottery conducted in the village. Within it were the papers that determined the life of one person, whether they would die or live. The box is described as old, shabby, and nearly falling apart. "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" (Roberts 348). Even though the box is stained and faded, the villagers avoid replacing it as it holds great significance to the lottery tradition. Also it symbolizes how people are willing to keep material things that preserve tradition, such as the black box. Each year, Mr. Summers wants to replace the box, but neither he nor the citizens ever get it replaced. This is because the...

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