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How does Jackson use foreshadowing to prepare the reader for the ending of "The...

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kacibinkley | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 14, 2012 at 10:03 AM via web

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How does Jackson use foreshadowing to prepare the reader for the ending of "The Lottery"?

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 14, 2012 at 11:41 AM (Answer #1)

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With its pastoral setting, children running happily about, people with "jovial faces," ordinary men gathered around talking about the weather, tractors, and taxes, the reader is totally disarmed when the Jackson's story takes its dark turn.  Nevertheless, there are very subtle suggestions of an ominous nature:

1. Even though the "children assembled first," which seems innocent, Bobby Martin stuffs his pockets

...full of stones, and the other boys soon follwed his example selecting the smoothest and roundest stones.

2. When Mr. Summers arrives, he sets down a "black box" on a three-legged stool. This action seem ominous because 

[T]he villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool, and when Mr. Summers said, "Som of you fellows want to give me a hand?" there was a hesitation before two men...came forward to hold the box steady.....

3. There is a sinister air about the lottery that is conducted each year.  Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves--his name suggests death--make the slips of paper and place them in this "splintered badly" box. Then the box is locked in the safe of Mr. Summers's coal company (suggesting black, also).

4. The discussion about other towns doing away with the lottery, makes the reader wonder what is wrong with this custom:

"Some places have already quit lotteries," Mrs. Adams said.

5.  When Mrs. Hutchinson arrives late and argues that her husband was not given enough time to select the paper he wanted, there is a suggestion that there is something sinister about the activity in which the townspeople are engaged.

 

 

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