“The Lottery“ by Shirley Jackson revolves around a town that was “trapped” in the loop of following a tradition that was passed down from a long time ago. The author sets up symbols throughout the story which was related to the story. Also, elements of irony and the setting which was ingeniously created by Jackson helps the readers to establish significant connections to the theme of the story, which was about how dangerous it is to blindly follow a tradition.
The setting in “The Lottery” is a very important element as it gives the readers a sense of what’s the story should be like, which Shirley has used to “trick” the audience ingeniously. At the start, Jackson is very specific in describing the setting of the story. She says “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day”. While reading this sentence alone, it has created such a welcoming place that the story took place. Summer has just started and everything seemed to embark onto a new beginning. This is the tricky part because Jackson gives her audience the sense that this is a normal town that goes about their day to day lives just as any others would. However, it is later revealed that it is rather “the end” because the winner of the lottery is stoned to death. The mood of the story became darker as the readers realized what’s the lottery is really about.
Along with the setting, symbolism also contributed greatly to the story. Old man Warner plays a key role in Jackson’s story “The Lottery”, as he is one of the main symbols. Mr. Warner is the oldest man in town and has participated in seventy-seven lotteries. He represents the blind acceptance of the tradition, which is the lottery in his town. The younger generations were starting to notice the unnecessary of the tradition as other places had begun to stop holding lotteries. He thinks they are a “Pack of crazy fools” for wanting to stop the lottery. He believes by retiring the tradition that “They’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves”. According to Mr. Warner, the lottery is the only thing that holds the town together. As“There’s always been a lottery”, his life experience about the lottery has molded his belief that human sacrifice is the only way to ensure that their harvests are great, seen in the line “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon”.
Mr. Warner accepts the way things are because this is the way they have always been. Changing tradition would be “Nothing but trouble” in his opinion. The other main symbol in “The Lottery” is the black box. It represents the longevity of the tradition. The box has become more shabby over the year, even started to show the original color of the box. At the beginning of the lottery the villagers used wood chips instead of paper. Over the years the small details of the lottery have been lost and all that remains is the true intention of it. The villagers are blindly following a ritual that has lost most of the tradition and only holding lotteries simply because there has always been one.