Exploring the Theme of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, is an intriguing story told by a third-person, objective narrator. The story is set in a small village that can be compared to any village in the world. The characters are all portrayed equally by the narrator; hence, there is not a main character. The characters in the story are similar to the people you would meet on the street today. These facts play into the theme of the story that violence and the acceptance of such by society is universal. “The Lottery” shows us that people are capable of anything if they think it is the social norm.
The story is set in June: “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day…” (416). The imagery inspires thoughts of being outside and running through the grass with the wind blowing. It begins in a small village with the characters gathering around the town square. The children gather first because school is already out. Being out of school evokes happy thoughts of summer time. Usually, summer is a joyful time. Nothing bad could happen on a day like this. The description of the setting misleads the reader into thinking that this is going to be a cheerful story of summer fun, which is far from the reality that is revealed at the end of the story.
The lottery is an affair for the whole family: “The children assembled first, of course” (416). The fact that there are children at this gruesome event is an outrage. Of course, the reader is unaware of what will unfold at this point in the story. The children assemble around the square: “[T]hey tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play” (416). A happy tone is set; although, there are some hints that something is not quite right with what is happening: “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full