The Lottery: Symbolism
In her story “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson manages to catch the readers’ attention and ultimately shock them with an unexpected ending; all of which help her emphasize her critique toward the dark side of human nature and the evil that resides, sometimes, in those who we less expect it from. Jackson uses symbolism throughout the story that helps her set the mood and also makes the readers wonder and analyze the senseless violence and cruelty in their own lives.
It all starts with the setting of the story. As Jackson describes “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”. It seems to introduce a joyful, happy tale in a normal quiet village; however, the truth lies ahead when the horrors of the lottery are discovered. The contrast of the setting and what actually takes place in the village, symbolize the fact that looks can be deceiving, and that sometimes, even beautiful things have dark sides.
Then, Jackson writes “The people of the village began to gather in the square”. The Village Square symbolizes the coming together of society, the grouping of people and; consequently, also the beginning of collective thinking. The lottery itself is presented as an annual event that is like any other local event in the village; she states “The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teen club, and the Halloween program”. For them, the lottery was a regular part of their lives, which symbolizes traditions and the way they affect people’s lives.
There are certain objects in the course of the story that also present a strong symbolism. The first one is the black box from which the names were picked; the color black clearly represents death and evil, the box represents community members that have become prisoners to the will of society and its traditions and are now “inside of a box” from which they cannot escape. The symbolism behind the stones is clear; they are not only murder weapons, but the first tools ever made by men were made of stone, which denote the savage and violent customs of ancestors.