Comment of the use of irony in "The Lottery".  

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epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Among the story’s many ironies, some of the most notable are:

1. The point of view. An objective narrator tells the story, remaining outside the characters’ minds, yet the narrator’s detachment contrasts with the attitude of the author, who presumably, like the reader, is horrified. That the day’s happenings can be recounted so objectively lends them both credence and force.

2. The setting. The beauty of the June day is out of keeping with the fact that what takes place on the town green is a ritual murder.

3. The misplaced chivalry. Though women can be stoned to death in these yearly proceedings, they are whenever possible protected from having to take part in the general drawing (paragraph 13).

4. The characters. The townspeople are perfectly ordinary types, "surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes" (3). Mr. Summers is in charge because he "had time and energy to devote to civic activities" (4). Old Man Warner is a stickler for tradition. Neighbors chat amiably. Children play. All are grateful that the proceedings will be over in time for them to enjoy their noon meal.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In the story "The Lottery" Jackson leads the reader to believe that the lottery is a good event.  It appears to be a social time of joy and gathering for the people who are present. 

The community members gather together.  The children are playing and collecting stones.  They are even careful to choose some rounded stones.  The adult males are standing around discussing farming and the weather.

There is a discussion about tradition but it does not give the reader the knowledge that the story is about to change.  Even as the people rush to join and collect together they exhibit laughter and seem to be in good spirits.

The irony comes in two forms: the lottery turns out to be that someone is murdered and it is not a good thing, and the lottery is accepted by everyone until a person is chosen and then the person becomes panicked and does not want it to happen.  Tess had rushed to join the others and to participate until she had begun to realize that it was going to be her that would be stoned to death.  The last irony is that following her stoning, everyone, including her family, returns to their daily practices just as if nothing had happened.


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