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Structure and symbolism in The Lottery.

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Course Name: ???????? Instructor Name: ?? ?? Student Name: ??? No. 01041083 Structure and symbolism in The Lottery In The Lottery, Shirley Jackson relates an unusual story concerning an old ritual within the setting of a small American village. Reading for the first time, most readers will be tremendously shocked by the ending: with an idyllic village atmosphere settled down at the beginning part, the cruel and outrageous ending comes all too suddenly and out of expectation. However, a careful examination can reveal that the shock is not sudden at all; The Lottery actually fuses two stories and themes into one fictional vehicle: the overt, easily discovered story appears in the literal facts, producing an immediate, emotional impact; whereas in the second story which lies beneath the first, the author's careful structure and consistent symbolism work to develop gradually the shock and to present a profound theme: Man is not at the mercy of savagery; he is the victim of unexamined and unchanging traditions which he may easily change if he only realizes their implications. The symbolic overtones which develop in the second story can be sensed as early as the fourth word of the story when the date of June 27th alerts us to the season of summer ...read more.


All these verify that the tradition, which is passed from generation to generation, has grown ever more cumbersome, meaningless and indefensible. From the symbolic development of the box, the story moves swiftly to the climax. Tessie Hutchinson hurries in, having almost forgotten the lottery in her round of normal housewife duties. She greets Mrs Delacroix and moves good-humoredly into the crowd. Summers consults his lists, and the lottery begins. In the following paragraphs, the reader can discern the shadow of ritualistic slaughters of the past. Clyde Dunbar is not present and Mr Summers asks who will draw for him. When Janey Dunbar replies, '"Me, I guess." Summers asks, "Don't you have a grown boy to do it for you Janey?" Although Mr Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfect well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally.' In this seemingly innocent exchange, the reader is jarred into a suspicion that the mentioned "grown boy" had been a previous victim and that his father cannot face the strain of being present. At any rate, this loss of son will explain the unusual encouragement given to Janey by the women as she goes to draw her slip of paper, her great anxiety as she awaits results with her remaining two sons: "I wish they'd hurry...... ...read more.


With the last symbolic intention clearly revealed, one may understand the deeper significance of the second, below the surface story. More than developing a theme which deals with scapegoating, or the human tendency to punish the innocent and often accidentally chosen victims for our sins, the author has raised these lesser themes to one compassing, comprehensive, compassionate, and fearful understanding of man trapped in the web spun from his own need to explain and control the incomprehensible universe around him, a need no longer answered by the web of old traditions. Man, Shirley Jackson says, is a victim of his unexamined and hence unchanged traditions which engender in him flames otherwise banked, subdued. Until enough men are touched strongly enough by the horror of their ritualistic, irrational actions to reject the long perverted ritual, to destroy the box completely----or to make, if necessary, a new one reflective of their own conditions and needs of life----man will never fee himself from his primitive mature and is ultimately doomed. Miss Jackson does not offer us much hope----they only talk of giving up the lottery in the north village, the Dunbars and Warsons do not actually resist, and even little Davy Hutchinson holds a few pebbles in his hands. Structure and Symbolism in The Lottery 16/05/2007 1 ...read more.

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