October 4, 2012
The ending of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is a surprise. However, there are numerous hints and clues that foreshadow what is to come.
The lottery is conducted by Mr. Summers. Mr. Summers, the lottery official, arrives in the town square where all the villagers have gathered. He carries with him the first of the major symbols Jackson employs in her story, a lottery box. The reader does not know until the very end of the story that the lottery is about death and sacrifice, but the box itself reveals hints of its true purpose. The box is black, old, and decaying , “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, ...view middle of the document...
At this point, winning the lottery doesn’t seem to be a good thing.
Another hint to this not being a happy occasion, is the lottery beginning at ten o'clock and only lasting two hours so the villagers can get back to their everyday work. Mr. Summers said, “Let’s finish quickly” (141; par. 72). Everyone wants to get the event over with. The town’s people want to be home by lunch. This is another clue that something about the lottery is amiss. If the lottery were something that the villagers looked forward to, getting home or the length of time wouldn’t be an issue.
The children are doing what all typical kids do, playing boisterously. However, they are also gathering rocks in the Village Square. "Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones" (137; par. 2). This makes you pause and ask yourself why the boys are stuffing stones in their pockets. The pile of stones is prepared for the lottery to begin. These stones are part of the cruel spectacle that takes Tessie Hutchinson’s life.
“The Lottery”, shows that a lottery is not always a good thing. This lottery is not what first comes to a reader’s mind, of winning lots of money. In fact, it is actually used to select a villager for a public stoning. The word lottery itself throws the reader off until the ending. Tessie Hutchinson is chosen by lottery to be sacrificed for the villager’s benefit. The clues described above, hint at a dark ending to this story.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and
Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Robert Zweig. 5th Compact ed.
New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. 136-141. Print.
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