Analysis of "The Lottery"

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Symbolism in “The Lottery”

Shirley Jackson’s story, “The Lottery”, is a unique story with a perplexing ending. Written and interwoven in the story are many philosophical points that still affect humans today. The major point that can easily be derived from the story is the point of how dangerous it is to follow a tradition blindly without question and the many symbols of this story express that point in their own ways; symbols like the date of the lottery, June 27th, the black dot, names in the story, the black box, and the lottery itself. Jackson’s choice of the number 27 reveals that she did not choose some random number. Throughout history we find that “fertility rites took place on Midsummer Eve (that is the 23rd of June) or on Midsummer Day (that is the 24th of June). So one may wonder at this point which line of the cabalistic tradition this story follows” (Schaub). In the story Jackson writes of an old saying that is the words of her character Old Man Warner, “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (Jackson). This saying reveals that the vindication of the lottery by the townspeople is that they believe that by holding the lottery there will be a good harvest. Sacrifices or traditions like this were not uncommon in history, but are not so common anymore. They have been labeled as cabala, or secret doctrines or sciences by the common religions of today like Christianity and Islam. Mentioned above is the fact that “fertility rites took place on Midsummer Eve (23rd of June) or on Midsummer Day (24th of June)”, so why did Jackson choose June 27th? The number 27 is not a prime number; therefore it can be reduced into smaller numbers like 9 and 3. “The number 9 is a multiple of 3, so the symbolic value attached to 3 is increased, namely completeness, perfection and fertility, and the end of a cycle (death) before the return to unity. So whether 27 is

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