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The lottery story by Shirley Jackson involves residents are in a preparation of following a longstanding traditional process of lottery. However, this proves to be a different type of a lottery as the winner gets a different form of present. This is unknown the reader of the story until when the story is almost over. Residents gather at 10 in the morning on in the square that is located between the bank and the post office awaiting the arrival of Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves who conducts the lottery. These residents are very determined to carry out the lottery despite the fact that the reasons for the lottery tradition are fading away and thus loosing their importance and significance. Shirley in the beginning of the story creates a peaceful mood of representative town on a normal day in atypical town. This setting act as a good foreshadow of the ironic ending. Irony is a primary theme that is applied in the lottery story by Shirley Jackson.
The first element of irony is present in the first paragraph in the introduction; the setting is introduced as a “clear and sunny day” whereas the day ends with the death of a housewife which is a brutal stoning. The whole concept of a lottery in a layman’s language entails the winning of either cash or prizes, as a result, the reader is forced to be in a situation whereby he/she expects that at the end of the day a resident took a prize home but in the reality, they will be stoned to death by the rest of the residents. It’s very ironic that despite the consideration of the serious outcomes of the lottery, the residents do not make a big issue about it. In addition, most of the traditions f the lottery such as the recitals and the salutes are no longer valued and the only thing that they do remember is the brutal killing of a random individual.
In the short story, the author states that the “school was recently over for summer” she continues and says “bobby martin has already stuffed his pockets hull of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and the roundest stones” in this quotation, a reader is likely to think that the stones were used in a type of a game played by the boys that has not been described. However, it’s ironic that in the end of the story the reader realizes that the stones are meant for the ritual killing of the randomly selected resident.
Another evident theme of irony in his story is in a critical analysis of the town. The town is located between the post bank shows that it’s very small due to the aspect of centralization of buildings and activities. The town is fundamental as the most of the story take place here. However, the town is unusual. First, the author fails to point out other major buildings that are present in every town such as the church or the courthouse. Second, it’s abnormal for these residents to celebrate the Halloween and not either Christmas or the Easter holidays that are the most celebrated holidays by normal residents in different areas. Lastly, the author sets the time to be in the mid morning, this is a hint of the ironic ending of the story as many criminal activities take place during night time.
The black box may look normal but it’s ironic as it symbolizes an act of immorality to the residents. This is true due to the fact that “the villagers kept their distance from the box. By the introduction of the box into the setting, the atmosphere and the mood of the residents is completely changed. The residents are seen to be uneasy due to the symbolism of the box which is evil. A critical reader may note something unusual about the box by this question “why does the introduction of the box change the mood of the residents from composed and peaceful to an ominous state?
The names of the individuals conducting the lottery are ironic in relation to the ironic ending of the story. The lottery is conducted by Mr. Summers at the exact time of the year that appears to be summer time. Second, Mr. Summers is aided by Mr. Graves who often is responsible for the keeping of the black box and the tree legged stool for the activity of the lottery. The name “Mr. Graves" raises eyebrows to the reader in relation to the ending of the story. In fact it’s unusual of the setting that the residents get the lottery papers from Mr. Graves. Consequently, it’s almost like Mr. Graves has much influence on the decision of whose grave it will be on that occasion. Mrs. Delacroix is a name that appears in the story, this name in Latin means the cross. This is great hint to the sacrificial killing of Tessie. It’s ironical of how despite the fact Mrs. Delacroix seems to be a pal to Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, it’s she who is shown to pick up the biggest stone and as a result this contributes to the stoning of Tessie. Lastly, the old man Warner, just like his name, he warns the residents of the dangers that are unknown to happen if the annual ritual is stopped. This situation is ironical as old men as said to be wise, contrary, old man Warner appears to be a very arrogant and illogical individual who blindly follows the unethical traditions. For instance, when he hears the news that the north village is considering doing away with the tradition, he says "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves." whereas he should be the one stopping the ritual from being passed to the next generations. The lottery names serve as a sinister of an event that is likely to occur in the town or among residents.
At the end of the story, it’s ironic how young Davy is secure as he is spared the act of execution on this ritual; the crowd is relieved on the consideration that it’s better to execute the mother than a young boy. The resident’s hand him rocks and stones and is taught t how to carry out the same activity that he escaped a while ago. A reader might have the question, are these resident even humans or evil beings? In addition, Jr, Nancy, and Bill the older children who are left home laugh on finding out the news that neither of them “won” the lottery, even if they are aware of the fact that their mother is about to be executed.
In conclusion, Shirley Jackson creates the mood for a typical town via the setting of the story. By applying the fine details she is able to foretell the ironic ending by using the setting of the story. For instance, she set the story in a normal summer day in a typical town. Second, she describes the children and the entire town in a normal way. Second, there is no presence of religion or authorities in the story. These aspects are supposed to aid the reader about the oddness of the setting. The ending is an ironic one from the start in that every resident in this town commits an unlawful act by stoning an innocent human being.
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