Shirley Jackson: Symbolism in “The Lottery”
In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson you can see what seems to be a fun game turn ugly. Symbols are used throughout the story to enhance and show the theme of the story. Three symbols that Jackson uses is the setting, the black box, and the characters’ names. They come together to make a captivating story and show how tradition may overpower how a community may feel or want to change.
The setting is one symbol used in the story. The lottery takes place in a normal town on a beautiful day. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with a fresh warmth of a full summer day; the flowers were blooming profusely and the grass was richly green” (140). This would make readers think something good will happen and will put you in a peaceful state of mind. The attitude and actions of the characters do not cause for much concern or suspicion while reading the story. Therefore, the setting can put you in a certain state of mind and deceive you before you have even finished the entire story.
The second symbol would be the black box. The black box was where the town’s people drew their strips of paper to find out who would be the winner. It had been used for a very long time and was older than the oldest member of the town. “The black box grew shabbier each year, by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained” (141). The box is mysterious because we are not completely sure what it is used for, but by the end of the story it symbolizes catastrophe and death, since one member of the community’s fate lies in the box. The people respond to the black box as if it may have some great power. The black box easily symbolizes death and evil.
The last use of symbolism in the story “The Lottery” is the characters. Not only actions but also their names help show the characters’ personalities. Old Man Warner was the biggest character showing...