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 happeningis brought to our attention in the second paragraph.
After Jackson describes the summer morning, she alludes tothe children gathering in the Village Square, but they areacting quite strange. “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followedhis exampleeventually made a great pile of stones in onecorner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys” (Text, 782). The first question we mustask is why are the boys piling stones up in the village square? At the very least we know that the stones willplay an important role in the final outcome. Each following paragraph contains subtle clues asto 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 thepile of stones in the corner” (Text, 783). The fact thatthe stood away from the stones, again, informs the readerthat 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 lastparagraph, 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 seeyoung Joe Summers up there joking with everybody” (Text, 786), thus indicating that the lottery was no jokingmatter. It is obviously going to make a major impact on somebody’s life. The people knew that every year there wasgoing 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 lotteryofficial) says, “Well nowguess 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 outwho 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 haddrawn.
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 onJackson’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 speakat once, saying, ‘Who is it?”Bill Hutchinson’s got it'” (Text, 787). Doomsday is upon the Hutchinson’s, and the Missus is screaming