The Lottery The Lottery, a short story written by Shirley Jackson, is a tale of disturbing evilness. The setting is a small village consisting of about 300 residents. On June 27th of every year the members of the community hold a village-wide lottery in which everyone is expected to participate. Throughout the story the reader gets an odd feeling regarding the residents. Although they are gathering for a lottery drawing there is an air of nervousness about the event. From start to finish there is an overwhelming sense that something terrible is about to happen due to the authors in depth use of foreshadowing.
The first hint that something strange is happening is brought to our attention in the second paragraph. After Jackson describes the summer morning, she alludes to the children gathering in the Village Square, but they are acting quite strange. “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his exampleeventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys” (Text, 782). The first question we must ask is why are the boys piling stones up in the village square? At the very least we know that the stones will play an important role in the final outcome. Each following paragraph contains subtle clues as to what is going to unfold. After all of the children have gathered the men begin to fill the square, followed by all of the women.
“They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner” (Text, 783). The fact that the stood away from the stones, again, informs the reader that the stones play some sinister role. Nervousness amongst the people is evident due to the children’s reluctance to join their parents standing in the square. At this point in the story the reader should have a feeling that the lottery being described isn’t going to have a pleasant outcome for someone in the population. One particular line on page 784, in the last paragraph, gives the reader direction in realizing the lottery payoff.
The narrator describes Mrs. Hutchinson’s entrance saying, “She tapped Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way through the crowd.” The word “farewell” is used as foreshadowing to the climax of the story. Normally when a person enters a crowd of people they are greeted, but not Mrs. Hutchinson for she is obviously leaving. Nearer the climax the hints of foreshadowing almost give away the secret. Old Man Warner says, “Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody” (Text, 786), thus indicating that the lottery was no joking matter. It is obviously going to make a major impact on somebody’s life. The people knew that every year there was going to be a lottery, and they maintained a sense of humor to accompany their disgruntlement.
Engaging in the drawing was a necessity to them, and for reasons not discussed, they accepted it. Another reference to the seriousness of the occasion is described when Mr. Summers (the lottery official) says, “Well nowguess we better get started, get this over with, so we can get back to work. Anybody ain’t here?” (Text, 785). Once again it doesn’t sound like the people involved are too anxious to find out who will be the “lucky winner”.
When Mr. Summers begins calling names, the residents nervously present themselves, unaware of their destiny, to pull slips of paper out of the little black lottery box. Nobody is to look at their slip of paper until all of the members of the village had drawn. This action adds suspense to the story. The reader will not know what is about to happen until the very end of the story unless they have picked up on Jackson’s strong use of foreshadowing. The story finally begins to unfold as everyone examines the individual slips. “For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened.
Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once, saying, ‘Who is it?”Bill Hutchinson’s got it'” (Text, 787). Doomsday is upon the Hutchinson’s, and the Missus is screaming and complaining that the lottery wasn’t “fair”. Due to her actions the reader now knows that she is going to be the one, but what is unknown is the prize. All through the story the people of the town have been on edge due to this annual event about which the reader knows very little. The stones that were mentioned in the first paragraph of the story now re-enter the plot and cause damage. After all of Jackson’s use of foreshadowing the reader finally finds out what the lottery “winner” will receive.
All of the members of the village go the pile of stones, pick up a hand full and stone Mrs. Hutchinson as she screams “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right”(Text, 789). After reading the first 3 or 4 sentences of The Lottery it is evident that something very strange is going on in the tiny little village. Shirley Jackson uses an abundance of foreshadowing which indicates, to a degree, what is about to happen to the winner of the lottery drawing. There is at least one indicator within each individual paragraph, which lets the reader know that the lottery is sinister, and that the people of the town are not looking forward to it’s commencement.