The Unexpected Symbolic Outcome of “the Lottery”
Essay title: The Unexpected Symbolic Outcome of “the Lottery”
The Unexpected Symbolic Outcome of “The Lottery”
Violence and human cruelty are two horrible things that occurred a long time ago and continue to be an ongoing issue in our society today. Everyone has either experienced, been apart of, or witnessed these awful acts at least once in their lifetime. Author Shirley Jackson coveys both violence and human cruelty in her well known short story “The Lottery”. “Jackson’s The Lottery” states, “The date of the lottery, its location, and the symbolic or ironic names of its characters all work to convey a meaning that is even more disturbing than the shock created by its well-known ending” (Yarmove 242). In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, she uses techniques such as symbolism and irony to reveal how cruel and violent people can be. Shirley Jackson uses symbolism in the story through a variety of different techniques such as setting, characters, and color to help symbolize the violence and cruelty that is taking place.

Shirley Jackson’s short story was very interesting because of all the satire and symbols that she puts into the story. Shirley Jackson begins “The Lottery” on a warm June day in a small town. She then describes the annual event that occurs in the town. This event is a tradition that is also done by many of the neighboring towns also. Next, Jackson explains how the children went to the town square first and begin to collect stones for the event, and then the men and women of the village come to the square also. Everyone is present in the town square because they are ready for the yearly lottery which Mr. Summers is in charge of. Mr. Summers brings the black box which has small pieces of paper folded inside of it out into the middle of the square and sits it on a stool. The men in each family then have to go draw a piece of paper from the black box. The family that gets the piece of paper with the black dot has to then have every family member including the kids draw again from the box. Now the family member who draws the black dot must get stoned by the whole village. This awful tradition takes place every year and the people of the village continue to agree to participate in this crazy act even though it is so violent and cruel. Shirley Jackson’s symbolism helps show how violent and cruel this act and the people are in the town of the story.

Jackson’s first symbolism technique she employs is her ironic way of describing the setting in the beginning of the story. This form of symbolism is used to enhance the surprise of the so cruel ending that happens. Shirley Jackson begins the short story by going into great detail on explaining the scenery and setting of the town. She describes the June day as being clear and sunny. Plus, she talks about all the people of the town. Jackson goes into great detail on explaining how many people are in the town and what everyone is doing at that certain time. All of her explanations are so ironic because she explains such a pretty day and happy people, when in reality a horrible act is about to take place. It is so ironic and strange because this story is set in a civilized society that seems to be very joyful and content, but then the brutal and cruel actions take place in this nice town. This irony that Shirley Jackson tells about just shows that evil exists in everyone even if it seems like they are the happiest and kindest people ever. Also, Jackson tells us in the start of the story “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones […]” (Jackson 118). This shows that all the people even the children of the town took place in the violent act of murder without even trying to fight against the situation or even feel bad about the acts that they were committing. However, Jackson’s use of describing the setting is not the only way that she symbolized the violence taking place in the town.

In addition, Shirley Jackson used many of the characters and their ironic names to symbolize the brutal and intense acts that later occur in the story. “Jackson’s The Lottery” states, “Not only do time and place bear important clues as to the allegorical meaning of ‘The Lottery,’ but the very names of the characters are laden with significance. The prominent names-Summers, Adams, Graves, Warner, Delacroix, and (most obviously) Tessie Hutchinson-have much to tell us” (Yarmove 243). Mr. Summers is one of the main characters in “The Lottery”, whose name is a symbol in an ironic way. Mr. Summers was the man in charge of conducting the lottery and all of the other civic activities that took place in the town because he was the only one who had the energy and time to do so. His name is satirical because it sounds to be such a happy, cheery, and fun name that reminds people

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Author Shirley Jackson Coveys And Shirley Jackson. (April 10, 2021). Retrieved from