Symbolism is a key element in Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery. From the black box to the stones used for the actual lottery drawing, symbolism is used to heighten the suspense and add to the overall mood of the story.
The black box is perhaps the most important symbol in the story. It is said to be made of “splintered wood,” which could represent the dark, evil nature of the lottery itself. The fact that it is kept locked also adds to its mystery and foreboding feeling.
The stones used for the lottery drawing are another significant symbol. They are described as being “smooth and round,” which could represent the innocent victims of the lottery. The fact that they are drawn from a black box furthers the symbolism of the story.
Symbolism is used throughout The Lottery to create an atmosphere of suspense and to add to the story’s overall mood. From the black box to the stones used for the lottery drawing, each element plays a role in creating a sense of foreboding and unease.
The symbolism of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson makes it a significant short story, even though the tale would be little more than an odd narrative about a stoning without the characters’ meanings. Because to what each character stands for and how the setting amplifies those meanings, it becomes a short story with immense meaning.
The first and most obvious symbol in the story is that of the lottery itself. The lottery is a long-standing tradition in the town, one which no one questions. It is a way of life. The lottery is also a symbol for the way in which tradition can blind people to the true nature of things. The villagers are so used to the lottery that they no longer see it for what it really is – a barbaric practice in which one person is chosen at random to be stoned to death.
Another symbol in the story is that of the black box. The box is old and battered, and it is clear that it has been used many times before. The black box represents the darkness and mystery of the lottery. It is a reminder that the lottery is an ancient tradition, one that has been passed down through the generations.
The characters in the story also symbolize various aspects of human nature. Tessie Hutchinson is a symbol of the way that people can be complacent in the face of evil. She does not protest the lottery, even though she knows that it is wrong. She goes along with it because she does not want to rock the boat. Old Man Warner is a symbol of the way that people can become so set in their ways that they no longer see the truth. He has been participating in the lottery for so long that he no longer sees it as a barbaric practice. Instead, he sees it as a necessary evil.
The setting of the story is also symbolic. The story takes place in a small town, which represents the way that people can be isolated from the outside world. The villagers are so used to the lottery that they do not see it as wrong. They have no contact with the outside world, and so they do not know that there are other ways of doing things.
All of these symbols come together to create a story that is rich in meaning and full of suspense. Without the symbolism, the story would be much less effective. Symbolism is what makes “The Lottery” a truly great short story.
The first character is unquestionably the story’s most prominent figure. Every word that escapes Old Man Warner’s lips smells of tradition. He never stops expressing his distaste for new lottery-related ideas, the way it is managed, or how things have gotten worse, etc., etc.
When Mr. Adams tells him that the inhabitants of a neighboring hamlet are considering withdrawing funds from the lottery, he warns them that they will be sorry when their crops fail. He personifies the old guard, who is so set in his ways that he can’t see any value in change, even if it’s for the better.
Another symbolic character is Tessie Hutchinson. She arrives late to the lottery, which could be seen as symbolic of her being an outsider in the village. She also wins the lottery, which is ironic given that she is an outsider. She protests the lottery, which could be seen as symbolic of her not belonging in the village. In the end, she is stoned to death by her own neighbors, which is a shocking display of how little regard they have for human life, even within their own community.
The lottery itself is symbolic. It represents the blind obedience of the villagers to tradition, even when that tradition is deadly. It also represents the randomness of fate, and how some people are just unlucky, no matter what they do.
There are those who believe this will be the year for transition. Traditional is a wonderful thing; it has served us well over time, but according to them, it’s been done that way before and should be changed now. In “the Lottery,” old Man Warner personifies everything that is wrong with tradition and really makes one think about some of the crazy things we as members of society have done and continue to do “because it has always been done that way.”
Mr. Warner is the eldest in the village and he has seen the lottery happen seventy-seven times previously. Because of this, he feels that it is his duty to protect the tradition of the lottery. He goes around telling people that they are foolish to even consider changing anything about the lottery. To him, the lottery is a deeply rooted tradition that should not be messed with.
“Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” This is what Old Man Warner says to justify why the lottery must take place (Jackson 225). In other words, he is saying that the lottery is necessary for a good harvest. Of course, we now know that this is not true. The lottery is just a senseless tradition that has no purpose.
The black box is also a symbol in the story. It represents tradition and how mindless it can be. The box is old and battered and has been used for as long as anyone can remember. It is so old that the original wood it was made out of has long since rotted away and had to be replaced. The black box is a metaphor for how people blindly follow tradition without question.
Another symbol in the story is the stones that are used to kill the person who gets the marked slip of paper. The stones represent the mob mentality. When the lottery starts, everyone gathers around and waits for the victim to be chosen. They then proceed to stone her to death even though they may have known her their whole life. This is a perfect example of how people can be easily influenced by those around them.
The lottery is a story that is full of symbolism. Shirley Jackson uses symbols to show the dangers of blindly following tradition and the mob mentality. The black box, the stones, and Old Man Warner all represent different aspects of society that can be dangerous if people are not careful.