The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Author Shirley Jackson delivers a great deal of mystery, suspense and even eeriness throughout the short story The Lottery. Imagery, symbolism and in-depth writing grants the reader visual and emotional access into the exceptionally small village of about 300 people, where the lottery takes place every year on June 27th.
The formalistic critical approach can be used to develop a sense of atmosphere, time, and place all of which are shown through symbols and description. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.” With the color of the grass representing growth, and the sun signifying energy and enlightenment- the impression of a peaceful atmosphere is given through the first sentence of the story. Initially, June 27th is portrayed as an entertaining day of excitement as it is learned that the whole village gathers together in the square, and participates in the lottery as a community.
All seems to be well in this quaint little village- that is until ‘the black box’ arrives. “The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying a three- legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool, and when Mr. Summers said, ‘Some of you fellows want to give me a hang?’ there was a hesitation before…” The people are very clearly cautious as well as worried by the presence of the box and from this point on, the setting is altered entirely and the black box itself becomes the focus of the story.
The reader experiences a sense of uncertainty when the crowd goes silent and an extreme measure of fearfulness is revealed through the actions of the characters. “A tall boy in the crowd raised his hand, ‘Here’ he said. ‘I’m drawing for m’mother and me.’ He blinked his eyes nervously and ducked...