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Gdbn Essay, Research Paper

Celine ZeidanProfessor Green Engl 102 2 December 2000 Symbolism of The lottery Deception is the root of all evil, but when people lie to themselves they only make matters worse. In Shirley Jackson s “The Lottery,” there is a great deal of symbolism present that makes us aware of the pointless nature of humanity regarding tradition and violence. The story starts off on a beautiful summer day in a small town. The author describes the day as very euphoric but strikes a contrast between the atmosphere of the town and the atmosphere of the people gathered in the square. The atmosphere is subdued, where the children are “gathered around quietly.” The black box is the central theme or idea in the story. It symbolizes at first some type of mystery, but as we read the ending we realize that it is synonymous with doom. Someone’s fate lies in an inanimate object, the black box. It is described as ..no longer completely black but splintered badly along one sideto show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained (Jackson 75).We do not always enjoy change, even if it might prove beneficial to us. No one in the little town questions the origin of the black box, but accept it as an intrical part of their lives. Many people who may never think of themselves as having a collective mind because they are aware of differences of opinion (Lessing 335) The townspeople, the setting of the town, the slips of paper, the black box and the black dot, and the stones are all keys to understanding the symbolism in this story. They all portray a different sense of being and help enlighten the reader on all the aspects of the story. The symbols throughout “The Lottery” are not just objects, but symbolic of life and death. People in this story were Norman Rockwell, picture perfect characters of normal life in a small village. Towards the beginning of the story the townspeople smiled at jokes, yet did not laugh, as if hesitating waiting for something to happen. The lottery holds are their attention. The adults stood around conversing, trying to ease their nervousness over day s events, because after this day they do not know if they will be alive. The children were gathering rocks rocks! Smooth rocks, but why? Since they were trying to find smooth round ones, they probably had intentions of going to a pond or lake later in the day after the big lottery and skip a few, or so the reader is led to believe. But the people of the village, such as Old Man Warner, who states, “There s always been a lottery”(75), are symbolic in their own sense. They are the small town tradition, holding onto the past while the rest of the world modernizes, passing them by. The ways of the obsolete must be tossed away when rendered useless as progress has surpassed it. An unnerving aspect of this story is the town s setting. Never during the story was a name given, a street name mentioned, or any means of identification which could determine the place of such a town. That is symbolic because it could have taken place in any small town across America. During the creation of this story many small towns in the United States could have been described in such a manner. The slips of paper have increased in numbers in the past few years. The little town is growing and the crops need to be plentiful to feed the families and other citizens of the town. The lottery could help out any family, since the family could put a little away and store what was necessary for later. People could relax and be at ease, but what are the odds of winning now with a town that grows and grows? Chances are that most people will not have the luxury of winning the lottery, and they will have to wait another year before they find out if they are lucky enough to get picked. When the truth of the lottery reveals itself the papers are actually a pass, an extension of life to those who are lucky enough to draw a blank one. Once the blank paper is drawn then it is certain that life is prolonged, white is for purity of life. Their life may now continue in harmony, until the next lottery. The black box has been around for ages, and has even been rebuilt with parts supposedly from the original black box. The black dot on the slip of paper identifies the lucky winner of the lottery, the person who will not have any worries ever again. Black has always been a symbol for death, and the color of the box and dot are no exception to this rule. The lottery sets up the winner and the people of the village takes care of him or her. But what do they take care of? Death is coming towards the lucky winner of the lottery, as spoken by the dot, and is passed on by judgment of the people of this town. The stones in “The Lottery” are also a key. They show how hard and cold this little, normal town really is. The people pick up smooth, round stones, much like life is a circle and a dot is round, which at the end is death. Round, circular shapes are key because of life. Life starts off with you weak and frail, then you hit your pique, after a while you start to go back where you start, weak and frail. The circle is with life as it always starts and end at the same spot. With callous intentions to destroy the person who is unfortunate enough to draw the black dot, the people of this town are worse than animals. Animals at least have a purpose to their destruction, there is no true reason why people must be sacrificed, murdered for the sake of tradition! They revert back to the stone age where primitive mentality were normal. In “The Lottery” there is a plethora of symbols that one can deduce are to heighten the appeal of the story or used to shock the reader, but they all demonstrate their point and purpose in this work. “The villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original box, they still remembered to use stones”(77). The glacial villagers throw the hard, smooth, round rocks at the innocent wife and mother whose only crime is, sadly, to pick a slip of paper with a black dot from the black box. Another symbolic aspect is the pieces of paper that are lifted away by the breeze and the ease with which life can be taken but is also symbolic of vast civilizations that were doomed to eventual failure for believing in and acting on tradition and not living according to the word of God. We see that even as Tessie is being stoned to death does she not question the reasoning behind the lottery, but why it should be her that has to die.

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