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A Study of The Theme and Plot in Shirley Jackson's Short Story The Lottery

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A Study of The Theme and Plot in Shirley Jackson's Short Story The Lottery Essay

The Lottery and Course Themes

The Lottery, which is written by Shirley Jackson was written in the year 1948. The story is very similar to that of Hunger Games, which is a modern movie that most people have seen. In this story, the author tells about a tradition of the village located in New England. The tradition is not like one that most people would assume, rather it is quite wicked in nature. Each year, citizens gather to pick the drawing on slips of paper of who will be sacrificed to death. Over the years, some formalities of this lottery have changed, however, much has stayed the same. Including the idea that citizens are left unaware as to when or why this custom began. This story exhibits both coming of age and disenchanted America dream themes within it. The American dream does not only extend to America, but is moreso a thought or desire. In The Lottery, the children relate to such topics of coming of age, and the disenchanted America dream moreso than adults.

The children in this story are not exempt from the process, nor the consequences of being chosen. There is absolutely no coming of age in this madness. In most cultures and traditions, age defines a lot, however, this villager does not allow even the innocence of a child to not undergo such tragedies. In the beginning, Jackson discusses how the children must choose the stones that will be thrown on the chosen. Children are also informed on the honors of such traditions in their lands. Although, it does not specify when these stories are told, audiences, can assume that, to some degree, the telling of this tradition is their coming of age. I claim this, because once this horrible fate is revealed to them, they lose their previous thoughts that the world is a fair place. They learn the truth of what being of a mature age brings upon, which in this case, could most likely be death.

The American dream is about equal opportunities for a fair life and shot at success. Although, these mechanisms displayed in this story are equal in nature. They fall short of allowing for a successful life. Which, then directly showcases a disenchanted dream. The choosing of a name determines the fate of the young, the old, the married, and unmarried, no one is exempt from this irrational consequence. Coming of age and disenchanted America dream are linked in this story, because once a child reaches this age of learning about these traditions, they no longer are granted the American dream of success and equality. These young people learn, that even if they follow all the rules and regulations of the town, they can be chosen during the lottery and face death.

To some degree, I feel that citizens almost lose hope in situations such as this. I mean, logically thinking, why would one even desire to get old and start a family, knowing well that all of this can be taken from them. This is in no way, shape, or form equality. Equality would include only those who have done serious damage or crimes in the town. Why should an innocent person be condemned to death for no fault of their own, just bad luck. Once these children reach this unidentified age, they have their coming of age. In most cultures, this is a celebratory age, and parties and celebrations conclude, however, these New England children are not granted such events.

Life is not fair, and neither are many of the rules that we must follow. However, nonetheless, these rules are set in stone, and we must learn to live with them. Although, no actual reasoning is provided by the author for such horrific traditions, we can assume, that there was some reason given to these practices. This story shows how not everyone’s coming of age is fun and exciting part of life, however, most people are granted a disenchanted American dream. Because this dream has long been dead, since equality and opportunity no longer exists consistently.


The Main Theme in The Lottery

“Winning a lottery may prove to be bad luck,” once said the famous James Cook. The notorious, Shirley Jackson certainly places Cook’s words into actions in her short story, ‘The Lottery’. Composed following World War II, it investigates thoughts, such as communal violence, individual vulnerability, and the perils of indiscriminately the following tradition. Set in an anecdotal town in mid-20th-century New England, the story starts as a straightforward tale about a community’s annual lottery. By the end, it develops into a ghastliness story featuring the public stoning of the lottery’s winner. Told from an objective, third-person point of view, the plot is progressed essentially by dialogue but is also filled with tone and symbolism that enhances its theme. Shirley Jackson uncovers in her short story the threats of aimlessly following traditions as it can lead to great harm.

The town lottery comes full circle in a savage murder every year, an unusual custom that recommends how perilous tradition can be when individuals tail it aimlessly. Before we realize what sort of lottery they’re directing, the townspeople and their arrangements appear to be innocuous, even curious: they’ve named a fairly disgraceful man to lead the lottery, and children run about collecting stones in the town square. Shirley even includes how the kids, men, and ladies engage in ‘normal’ sorts of action; ‘the men swap [swapped] jokes,’ the ladies ‘exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands’. Those sentences present tone as it seems to demonstrate that nothing especially disturbing will happen to indicate the traditional of this custom with a laid back persona. Jackson likewise communicates the lottery is occurring ‘The morning of June 27th,’ with a ‘clear and sunny day with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day,’ deluding the reader into speculation that this is a positive occasion by including a joyful and vivacious sort of tone. As the reader proceeds, one can discover that the lottery shows up as some type of town fete or a celebration.

Tradition is endemic to communities, it’s a method to connect families and ages. Jackson, in any case, jabs openings in the respect that individuals have for custom. She composes that the villagers don’t generally think a lot about the lottery’s cause, however, attempt to protect the tradition nevertheless. Symbolically, in ‘The Lottery’ the lottery box is a major attribute towards characterizing the theme. The box is a symbol for those in the town since it is one of the main associations with the cause of the lottery. ‘The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago’ it has been utilized for whatever length of time that anybody can recall, yet isn’t the first box. Rather, they accept that a portion of the ‘pieces from the original lottery box’ may have been utilized to make ‘the new box’, however that is not certain. This clarifies that any real connection to the original meaning of the lottery has vanished. In any case, the lost meanings of the tradition have from multiple points of view made the tradition all the more dominant, since you can’t scrutinize a tradition once it has moved ridiculously to the way things are done.

The townspeople’s blind acknowledgment of the lottery has enabled custom murder to become part of their town rituals. As they have illustrated, they feel powerless to change or even attempt to transform anything, in spite of the fact that there is nobody compelling them to keep things the same. These standard individuals, who have quite recently originated from work or from their homes and will before long come all the way back for lunch, can without much of a stretch slaughter somebody when they are advised to. What’s more, they don’t have an explanation behind doing it other than the way that they’ve constantly held a lottery to slaughter somebody. On the off chance that the townspeople halted to address it, they would be compelled to wonder why they are submitting murder; however, nobody stops to address it. For them, the way this is a tradition is reason enough and gives them all the defense they need.

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