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The Lottery

The Lottery


by Shirley Jackson

Tools of Characterization

Character Analysis


This isn't exactly an action-packed story, but we can glean bits of information about characters through the few actions that we do see. The most glaring example of this comes at the end of the story, when the formerly companionable Mrs. Delacroix selects a stone "so large she had to pick it up with both hands" (76). This tiny bit of detail demonstrates Mrs. Delacroix's eagerness to stone her former friend Tess Hutchinson. Other examples of action being used to convey character occur at the start of the story, when the young boys begin to stockpile stones, suggesting that they, more so than anyone else, are the most eager to participate in the ritual.

Family Life

The characters of "The Lottery" all have stable, traditional types of family life – the households we meet contain a mother, a father, and a few children. As we might expect, the villagers all appear well adjusted and sociable. This is true for most of "The Lottery," but alters abruptly when the true meaning of the annual tradition is revealed. Family life is thus used as a tool of characterization that lulls us into a false sense of security.

There is one glaring exception to dominant type of family life we see in the story. Mr. Summers has no children and his wife is a scold, leading the villagers to feel sorry for him. We can assume his lack of a strong family life allows Mr. Summers to give so much of his time to civic activities.

Thoughts and Opinions

Thoughts and Opinions are a tool of characterization for Old Man Warner, who is adamant that doing away with the lottery would represent a regression in their lives. More than anyone else in the story, Old Man Warner champions the existence of the lottery, which helps us understand his character as being particularly tradition-bound.