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The Lottery

The Lottery

by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery Analysis

Literary Devices in The Lottery

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The lottery is like an 800-pound gorilla of symbols in this story. It's in the title, for Pete's sake. Where do we even begin? Well, let's start with the lottery as a way of upsetting reader expect...

Setting

The anonymity of the village signals its universality. It adds to the horror of the story that we can imagine the lottery taking place anywhere, in any small town we might know. We can't confine th...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator of "The Lottery" is extremely detached from the story. Rather than telling us the characters' thoughts or feelings, the narrator simply shows the process of the lottery unfurling. This...

Genre

These two genres go hand-in-hand in "The Lottery." By placing the story in a generic small town, the horror of "The Lottery's" ending stands in stark contrast to the normalcy of the story that come...

Tone

This serves to underscore the horror of the lottery, as there is no shift in narrative voice when the story shifts profoundly from generic realism to nightmarish symbolism. We go from reading about...

Writing Style

The very first sentence of the text clues us in: "The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was r...

What's Up With the Title?

Not surprisingly, this story's title brings to mind the dictionary definition of, well, a lottery: a happening determined by chance. There's nothing in that definition about good or bad chance R...

What's Up With the Ending?

Jackson defers the revelation of the lottery's true purpose until the end of the story, when "the winner," Tess Hutchison, is stoned to death by friends and family. This shocking event marks a dram...

Plot Analysis

Villagers gather in the square.The story begins with a sense of liberation. It's a beautiful summer day, the children are out of school, and the villagers have begun assembling in the square to hol...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

In keeping with our conviction that no single person in this story is exactly the protagonist (check out the "Character Roles" section for more on this), we're going to stretch Christopher Booker's...

Three Act Plot Analysis

The first act of any story concludes at the point of no return. We see a lot of anticipation in "The Lottery" as the villagers gather in the square and their children gather stones in a vast pile....

Trivia

Reading "The Lottery" will help you better understand South Park. No joke. Season 12, Episode 2 of South Park, entitled "Britney's New Look," directly parodies "The Lottery." In the episode, Britne...

Steaminess Rating

What this story lacks in sex scenes, it makes up for in (implied) horrific violence. Despite a G rating when it comes to sexuality, this is not a story we recommend reading to little kids.

Allusions

None

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