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Book Review The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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In the modern society, most people participate in lottery games with one aim; winning. There are however some situations where participants in lottery games do not emerge as outright winners but rather losers.

The Lottery, a short story by Shirley Jackson is an interesting story that captures the attention of the reader until the last page. The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze the short story and the lesson that can be learnt from it. The paper will look at the main characters in the book and the role that they play, it will also look at the setting and the irony of the story. As mentioned in the first paragraph of this paper, lottery always gives one an impression of winning or scoring big, the irony behind this title as used in the short story will also be discussed.

The Setting: In the month of June of every year, most nations’ experience the summer season; the time when the long sunny periods, this is the same period that the story was set (Shirley, 5). It is in the same month also that the people of this “nation” participate in lottery where the winner is not feted with gold and silver but another form of award.

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Shirley adds that due to the small population of the residence of this part of the nation, the process takes less time as compared to other areas with high population, where the lottery runs for two (2) days (5). Another indication that the story was set during the summer period is the presence of youths and children during the event, most of whom had closed school for summer vacations.

The Irony of the Story: The opening of the story is the exact opposite of the events that are to happen in the book. The book describes the mood of the villagers as being happy, relaxed and jovial, this gives the reader and impression of a good ending to the story, however this is ironical. One of the main characters in the book Mrs. Hutchinson is quoted asking one of the villagers, Mrs. Delacroix if she had forgotten what day it was (9). This is ironical because awful events are rarely forgotten by people of the community.

Symbolic Characters: One of the main characters in the book is Mr. Summer. His name represents a season of the year. In the book, he is used to represent change, from old to new. It is during this period that most crops are harvested and new one planted. He is also used to represent the traditional change. He replaced the old wooden chips that were used in the lottery with paper, something that very few people could do. Another symbolic character in the book is Mr. Grave who controls more power and has more influence that Mr. Summer. In the book, the winner of the lottery stoned to death and this is what Mr. Grave symbolizes. Others are Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson who complained of the unfairness in the lottery process.

The Lottery is an interesting short story that teaches people of the different happenings of life. The book is used to illustrate the difference between the modern and traditional life styles as well as the unfairness in the administration of justice among the different classes of people in the society. It is an educative book.

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