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Thematic and Literary Analysis of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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In “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson tells us about a town’s annual tradition. At first all of the people seemed excited and then as the tradition started everyone became anxious at the thought of what will happen. Jackson creates the theme life is chaotic shown through a collection of rocks, a town gathering, and an unexpected ending. Jackson develops the theme life is chaotic through a collection of stones. In the beginning the author describes the children picking up stones. She says “And the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones.” She is describing how the children are getting excited because they are finding the perfect stones and how eager they become. Jackson describes the energy of the boys when she says “Very small children rolled in the dust.” This shows how there is chaos because of the energy flowing through the children causing them to be energetic. She gives description on the stones and the feeling of the atmosphere being chaotic.

The theme life is chaotic develops with a town gathering. The author describes how the people were acting while gathering. She says “Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes.” The people especially the men were acting calm while gathering having conversations. She then goes on to write “There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open.” The people had started out calm but as the lottery got closer they were anxious to have it be done. The actions of the people changed as time went on becoming more chaotic. In “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson creates the theme life is chaotic. All of the people had drawn a paper from the box and this leads to an unexpected ending. She says “For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once.” All of the people are calm while opening the papers but once they have been opened the women shouted and that created chaos. Later she writes “‘It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,’ Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.” She had screamed as they all threw stones at her and all 299 other people throwing stones and one screaming causes the peace to be disturbed and have disorder.

The mayhem was due to an unexpected ending and Mrs. Hutchinson’s life became full of chaos in that moment. By showing children’s excitement, a change in attitude, and an unforeseen resolution, Shirley Jackson develops the theme life is chaotic. Jackson demonstrates the excitement of the children as they gathered stones. The people were calm as the lottery approached but got edgy wanting it to start. The women showing and the wife screaming caused there to be even more chaos and excitement within the people. While I don’t believe that this will ever happen in real life, it is vital to remember that just because something sounds good or exciting doesn’t mean it is. In other words don’t judge a book by its cover you don’t know all of the details written inside.

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Thematic and Literary Analysis of the Lottery by Shirley Jackson. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from
“Thematic and Literary Analysis of the Lottery by Shirley Jackson.” GradesFixer, 10 Dec. 2020,
Thematic and Literary Analysis of the Lottery by Shirley Jackson. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Jul. 2022].
Thematic and Literary Analysis of the Lottery by Shirley Jackson [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Dec 10 [cited 2022 Jul 5]. Available from:
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