"The Lottery" by Shirley JacksonGenre-Fiction Date-26 June, 1948
Old Man Warner- The oldest man in the village and has been to the lottery for the "seventy-seventh year" (Jackson 4).
Mr. Summer- Mr. Summer is the individual who conducts the lottery. He is a "round faced, jovial man" (Jackson 1).
Mr. Graves- The "postmaster" of the Lottery (Jackson 1 ).
Mrs and Mr. Hutchinson- A typical family in the village. Mrs. Hutchinson "forgot what day it was" (Jackson 2).
The setting takes place on June 27th at 10:00 am in a small village. The entire population of 300 residents are placed in "the square, between the post office and the bank" (Jackson 1).
Who will be chosen?
The Hutchinson Family
In this short story, the people of the village attend their annual black box Lottery and this Lottery has taken place for many generations in the village. In the black box contains many slips of white paper, for the exception of one that has a black dot on it. These slips are picked by the residents themselves, including Mr.Summer and Mr. Grace. The people of the village are very anxious during the Lottery for the fear of being chosen.
3 Vocabulary Words and Tone
Vocab WordsJovial- Cheerful and friendly. "He was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him, because he had no children and his wife was a scold" (Jackson 1). Defiantly- A manner that shows open resistance or bold disobedience. "She hesitated for a minute, looking around defiantly, and then set her lips and went to the box" (Jackson 6). Paraphernalia- Equipment needed for a particular activity. "The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner" (Jackson 1).
The men of each household and family walk up to the black box where Mr.Summer is ironically positive and comfortable, and select a random piece of paper. Everyone in the square waits anxiously for the chosen family to be revealed.
Theme and Literary Device
The theme of this story is the power of fear. After suggesting to start the selection process over because her family was selected, Mrs. Hutchinson says "I tell you it wasn't fair. You didn't give him time enough to choose" (Jackson 5). Mr. Summer has been the village's Lottery conductor for years, so it's obvious he did not intentionally shave off time for Mr. Hutchinson to pick a slip of paper. Mrs. Hutchinson surely knows this too but because of the fear of what may happen to her, she pleads to restart the selection process for her own safety.
Out of 300 people, the Hutchinson family is selected. Of the family members, one is chosen from selection who receives a certain "reward" that everyone in the village is scared and anxious about. The crowd assorts their "weapons."
Tone- The tone of the story is overall ambivalent and subtle because the speaker's diction reveals the character's fluctuating feelings. When calling for the husband's names, Mrs.Hutchinson says "'Get up there Bill,', and the people near laughed" but after all the names were called there was a "long pause, a breathless pause" (Jackson 3 & 4). This subtle tone switch suggests how the people feel about the name selection before and after it's finalized.
Literary Device- The primary literary device is the symbolism of a slip of paper. After selecting a slip of paper, Mr. Adams (a villager) "held it firmly by one corner as he turned and went hastily back to his place in the crowd" (Jackson 3). This slip of paper symbolizes the fear in the environment that controls people's actions. For Mr. Adams, he can't walk comfortably back to the crowd because he knows he has a chance of being selected and the slip of paper fuels his fear.