Persona can be loosely defined as the face value that is usually a positive image, while the shadow is the buried reality that is the polar opposite of what is seen. Shirley Jackson wrote "The Lottery" which is about a town's annual mandatory lottery; it shockingly concludes with the murder of the winning person."The Lottery" illustrates the psychological concepts of persona and shadow through the yearly, unjustifiable stoning in the midst of a seemingly modern and thriving town.
The small town's tight knit community is the persona that Shirley Jackson initially exhibits to the readers. The story begins cheerily, taking place on a warm summer day with the townspeople gradually gathering in the town square. The school year had just ended and the little boys were out playing and collecting stones, while the little girls talked amongst themselves. The archetypal small town also holds a lottery, ...view middle of the document...
Although, as the story unfolds, the shadow of the town is revealed.
The contrasting themes in the story connotes the evident dark reality of the town's tradition. Mrs. Delacroix's name, meaning of the cross in French was pronounced as dellacroy by the people, this signifies the lack of morality in the town. Even though it was very faint, Shirley Jackson makes the effort of naming the two presenters Mr. Summers which invokes happy feelings, to represent the persona of the town and Mr. Graves which invokes death, to represent the shadow. Old Man Warner is often times seen warning people of what could become if the lottery was to be cancelled, "Next thing you know they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves...There's always been a lottery" (Jackson, 298). He suggests that cancelling the lottery would be step back from progress and put them back in the shadow of a cave. Nevertheless, the reason for having the lottery was never explained in the story.
The town's mindsets and attitudes also demonstrates the ignorance of its citizens. The manner in which people treated the lottery was noticeably playful, especially Tessie who walked in late and kept making jokes which the crowd laughed at. On the other hand, when she had 'won' the lottery she insisted that it was not fair and called for a redo, this shows the apathy of the population towards the lottery until it happens to you, which is when you start questioning the system. The oppression of women is shown through the Mrs. Dunbar, who was asked many times whether she "Had a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?" (Jackson, 297). In contrast, a sixteen year old boy named Watson was praised for being old enough to draw for his mother.
Shirley Jackson attempted to explain that despite how nice something or someone may seem at face value, there will always be a darker facet that takes examination because it is not as easy to see. The townspeople have a perception that their community is a successful one, although, it is clear that their town has its flaws. The annual lottery is one of these flaws, but no one spoke against it because it is difficult to face the shadow that is ingrained in their traditions.