As one reads the story of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson the suspense and playful nature of exactly the lottery’s purpose keeps the reader reading until the end. The story starts as one would consider being a town’s tradition to gather for this event. The lottery is kept a mystery until the very end, the little boys are gathering rocks, the adults are discussing their daily lives as normal, but the reader is kept page flipping to figure out what’s this all about. While there is no hint as to what one would win from this lottery Mrs. Hutchinson because a prominent character, who the writer tells almost forgot the lottery. The few hints that the reader gets before the conclusions are that the lottery does not happen in certain towns anymore and that their town usually does not take as long to finish theirs due to their size being so small of only about 300 people. The reader has to guess and assume that the tradition that they were celebrating would be one with a reward, while many have controversial emotions on the ending which concludes with a woman being stoned to death. This story embarks the reader on how the creative mind of Shirley Jackson works, this woman took a chance in creating this story which many in this era found disturbing, but using characters like the simple one who is called Mr. Summer who carries the event out, Tessie and her family, and Old Man Warner all play prominent roles in keeping up the sense of suspension that the author creates through the story. The author uses foreshadowing, tone, and conflict to express and keep the reader hanging on until this story’s unexpected conclusion of stones being thrown.
The author Shirley Jackson, born December 16, 1916, in San Francisco, California. This woman can be said a risk-taker when it came to her writing with “The Lottery” being one of the noted short stories of its time. She studied at the University of Rochester and then Syracuse University, where she started her writing career as the fiction editor of the campus humor magazine. She focused on horror and thrillers in her writing which explains the nature of the story “The Lottery”, written in 1948 and those that came after it such as “The Haunting of Hill House” and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” She used her writing as a form of escape and a release from the tragedy she faced in her marriage, many call her creative mind one that was haunted based on her stories. She did experience the abuse of alcohol that took a toll on her, but to say the least, the woman used her pain in order to create these thrilling stories we know today. She had four children with her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman, whom she met while she was attending her university. Leaving us many great works that kept people on the edge of their seats she died due to cardiac arrest on August 8, 1965, in North Bennington, VT.
The story starts as would any with the introduction establishing the setting in which this story will unfold in a small town, and on this specific day of June 27th, they are carrying out a tradition that is introduced to the reader as a lottery with little information other than the little boys gathering stones. This fact alone does not seem like one that holds any specific importance until the end, but at this moment just seems like one that was nothing but other than them getting ready for innocent fun. Little can be determined by the information giving on the events that will take place but, it is noted that they had to get through this, and it would only take 2 hours to do so. The character Mr. Summer can be described as one “who had time and energy to devote to civic activities” which leads the reader to believe how simple he is and that these town meetings and traditions give him a sense of purpose. This can also be seen as a sad motivation since it results in death, but the character Mr. Summer shows how his little power blinds his need to change a terrible town holiday, he gains his sense of belonging from it to stand in front of his peers and carry out something that they all seem to have lost the meaning for. The most symbolism used in the story would be the black box the color alone is one that represents a sense of sadness and even death in some cases, but this box is one that is old and like this tradition in need of replacement. The people in this story shed no light on the future events except the nerves of Mrs. Hutchinson when she shows up late to the occasion. While her nerves are not read off as one that means trouble it can be recognized at the end why she had these emotions towards the occasion being one that she forgot. Her character takes the stage mid through the story as one who is as common as the rest and she establishes her place in the story by showing up late for this “lottery” which many would assume as strange if it was something good coming from it how could one forget such. This is where the reader should take note of and help grasp the ending better. Her unsettling attitude about almost missing the drawing can be decided as one that highlights consequences that could result from such actions.
Old Man Warner sets the tone for this story’s ending by showing how this tradition has been around for a long time and the author shows through his attitude toward the other towns getting rid of it that since he had to endure this for all these years, he felt the others did too. He symbolizes the hard struggle many go through with change and how that the older you get the more one can be stuck in their ways. As the story progresses the lottery begins and everyone has pulled their cards and Bill Hutchinson has been rumored and confirmed to have “got it,” this is where the reader attention has begun to turn up because the author at this point has been building the suspense for the prize to be given to any of these town people. This is where the gears shift the idea of a comfortable casual day has now changed on to suspense and worry by Mrs. Hutchinson by her yelling the unfairness that is this lottery. The people seem bothered and carry on as such and reveal the number of people in Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson’s family and they are forced to pick their cards. Many are hoping that Nancy the twelve-year-old daughter did not get what everyone was waiting for the winner at the end of this drawing, but as Shirley Jackson wrote it was Tessie, Mrs. Hutchinson’s, whose fate had been sealed with the black dot. From that discovery, she again showed a lot of nerves the reader can only understand to be her just being irrational, but the stones that were mentioned early on in the story made sense now. The pleading and begging that was coming from her shown that whatever the lottery was there was no prize. This story concluded in what the reader can only assume a mother being stoned to death by the tradition of her small town. This is where many questions Shirley Jackson’s wellbeing because people were stirred with emotions after reading this horrific ending that concluded “The Lottery”, which many did not expect.
The conflict in this story can be seen early on by Mrs. Hutchinson’s worry and even looking back at the way each family eventually found their own family because for one person in the crowd it would be their last meeting. This thrilling story is one that should be praised due to Ms. Jackson being able to bring the reader to the end with little understanding of the direction the story would take her ability to rise and build the climax and conclusion all at the end can be notably one of her standout points as a writer altogether. This story took only five pages to create what many would agree to be a very disturbing piece of work, but in that horror is where Jackson shines. For many the stones were consider to be gathered for child’s play, not the stoning of a person to death and with the pleading of her life at the end, it shows how the town’s traditional had shaped their society to turn a blind eye to their moral standards all for a tradition that was not even fully followed any longer.
The writing of the lottery may have been a piece to show how Shirley Jackson was feeling inside or simile a creative fictional piece that stemmed from her hurt, whatever the case it came from a very disturbing place. This one brilliant nature to write this with some foreshadowing, tone, and conflict made for a horrific masterpiece of its time. She shaped the people’s minds seeing in a very creative way how tradition can do harm to a group of people who do not and will not change simply because it is tradition. This masterpiece is short but rememberable and thrilling enough to leave a mark on the people’s minds who read it, although it was done early in her career it lay the foundation for her far more haunting stories and novels to come.