In her story “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson uses many literary devices but symbolism and irony show how blindly following tradition leads to disaster.Shirley Jackson uses specific characters and people to explain so. There is use of irony almost in every paragraph. The title is ironic itself because lottery is always looked as a way to win a lot of money but we find out the “lottery” leads to something negative not positive.
Shirley Jackson sets the story in a peaceful and a quiet town. The story itself take place on a beautiful sunny morning. “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”(1).This gives the reader an idea of a normal quiet town. Also Shirley shows that the town of having a ” post office and… bank”(1). Shirley never mentions that the town has a church or any type of law enforcement.This irony represents that the citizens of the town have no respect for the authority. Where the lottery takes place is also the place where ” as were the square dances, the teenage club, the halloween program”(1). This is ironic because reader finds out that the lottery is not about money and actually about choosing the next sacrifice for the town. Also after the lottery happens everybody goes back to their normal life and they do it again next year.
When the people gather for the lottery, their behavior is very ironic. When the men get together they joke around and talk about “…of planting and rain,tractors and taxes…”(1). The women gathered “greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip….”(1). People of the town act as though the lottery is a happy event, as the story progresses, the reader finds out that the death of one of theirs is approaching. Another irony was when Mrs. Delacroix told Mrs. Hutchinson “Be a good sport, Tessie”(5). when Tessie was arguing about the lottery being unfair, later on Mrs. Delcroix “selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands”(8). The lottery is conducted by Mr. Summer and Mr.Mr Graves which are pretty ironic names. Mr Summer name brings summer thoughts and a happy wonderful life while Mr Grave reminds of dead people, sad events and graveyards. In the start of a new summer a new grave will be entered in the community, the people of the town accept this as a fact of life and that is how they live life in the town.
Shirley Jackson uses symbolism in a powerful way to play put the story. She uses objects in the story to let the reader find out the in depth meaning of the objects. On of the biggest object she uses is the black box. “When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of conversation among the villagers”(1).The townsmen keep their distance from the black box which is also the lottery box, ” the villagers kept their distance”(1). This is also ironic because it shows the reader that the box is not a money winning lottery but a holds the fate of life and death of a person in the town. Another object she uses to explain the story are the stones. Shirley Jackson used stones for a reason because it allows everyone to throw stones and participate in the ritual.”although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box,they still remembered to use the stones.”(8). Young kids to Old Man Warner are allowed to kill the chosen one by throwing stones until she dies.The person is also chosen by a black dot so whoever has a black dot on their paper is the sacrifice for their town. Also killing someone from stoning comes from the cavemen because it was the first weapon. Stoning is also religious, religion such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam used this method it was meant for expelling an outsider from the community.
At the end of the story, Shirley Jackson shows how the town is evil and a deadly town with the help of irony and symbolism. The reader finds out that death in that town is nothing special and is the fate of the townsmen. The lottery becomes a horror because it doesn’t choose a winner instead a loser. The black marked ballot chooses the person who has to fear his or her death and surender it’s life to death. Shirley Jackson proves that the town is evil and you are doomed to death in that town and she proves this by irony and symbolism.