The Lottery



The Lottery, a short story written by Shirley Jackson, is a tale of disturbing evilness. The setting is a small

village consisting of about 300 residents. On June 27th of every year the members of the community hold

a village-wide lottery in which everyone is expected to participate. Throughout the story the reader gets an

odd feeling regarding the residents. Although they are gathering for a lottery drawing there is an air of

nervousness about the event. From start to finish there is an overwhelming sense that something terrible is

about to happen due to the authors in depth use of foreshadowing.

The first hint that something strange is happening

is brought to our attention in the second paragraph.

After Jackson describes the summer morning, she alludes to

the children gathering in the Village Square, but they are

acting quite strange. "Bobby Martin had already stuffed

his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed

his example…eventually made a great pile of stones in one

corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of

the other boys" (Text, 782). The first question we must

ask is why are the boys piling stones up in the village

square? At the very least we know that the stones will

play an important role in the final outcome.

Each following paragraph contains subtle clues as

to what is going to unfold. After all of the children

have gathered the men begin to fill the square, followed

by all of the women. "They stood together, away from the

pile of stones in the corner" (Text, 783). The fact that

the stood away from the stones, again, informs the reader

that the stones play some sinister role. Nervousness

amongst the people is evident due to the children's

reluctance to join their parents standing in the square.

At this point in the story the reader should have a

feeling that the lottery being described isn't going

to have a pleasant outcome for someone in the population.



One particular line on page 784, in the last

paragraph, gives the reader direction in realizing

the lottery payoff. The narrator describes

Mrs. Hutchinson's entrance saying, "She tapped Mrs.

Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make

her way through the crowd." The word "farewell" is used

as foreshadowing to the climax of the story.

Normally when a person enters a crowd of people they are

greeted, but not Mrs. Hutchinson for she is obviously

leaving.

Nearer the climax the hints of foreshadowing almost give

away the secret. Old Man Warner says, "Bad enough to see

young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody"

(Text, 786), thus indicating that the lottery was no joking

matter. It is obviously going to make a major impact on

somebody's life. The people knew that every year there was

going to be a lottery, and they maintained a sense of

humor to accompany their disgruntlement. Engaging in the

drawing was a necessity to them, and for reasons not

discussed, they accepted it.

Another reference to the seriousness of the

occasion is described when Mr. Summers (the lottery

official) says, "Well now…guess we better get started,

get this over with, so we can get back to work.

Anybody ain't here?" (Text, 785). Once again it doesn't

sound like the people involved are too anxious to find out

who will be the "lucky winner". When Mr. Summers begins

calling names, the residents nervously present themselves,

unaware of their destiny, to pull slips of paper out of

the little black lottery box. Nobody is to look at their

slip of paper until all of the members of the village had

drawn. This action adds suspense to the story.

The reader will not know what is about to happen until

the very end of the story unless they have picked up on

Jackson's strong use of foreshadowing.

The story finally begins to unfold as everyone

examines the individual slips.

"For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of

paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak

at once, saying, 'Who is it?'…'Bill Hutchinson's got it'"

(Text, 787). Doomsday is upon the Hutchinson's, and the

Missus is screaming and complaining that the lottery wasn't