How does the plot itself tie into my thesis, keeping in mind the setting, point of view & symbolism will be discussed in other areas of the paper?I am writing a literary research paper on "The...

How does the plot itself tie into my thesis, keeping in mind the setting, point of view & symbolism will be discussed in other areas of the paper?

I am writing a literary research paper on "The Lottery." My thesis focuses on "the human capacity for everyday savagery" and the wickedness of ordinary people. I am breaking it down into setting, plot, point of view and symbolism.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In addition to the cogent points already made, in your analysis of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," you may wish to point to the specific actions and words of several characters in the plot which demonstrate that the propensity for violence is inherent in people.  For example,

  • The lottery is considered traditional, as expressed by Old Man Warner, who calls others "Pack of crazy fools."
  • The drawing has been done so many times that people only half-listen to directions, "most of them quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around."
  • Mrs. Hutchinson's husband shows her no sympathy, telling her, "Shut up, Tessie," when she objects.
  • And, coldest of all, is Mr. Summers who says, "All right, folks,...Let's finish quickly."
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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Concerning your essay and "The Lottery," plot, of course, is the arrangement and interrelation of events in a narrative work.  Plot is what the writer has done to the events that make up a story.  The writer arranges the events to turn a story into a plot that creates a narrative work. 

Plot is also the framework for everything else the writer does.  It is like the coat rack that everything else hangs on.  Thus, the other elements you are dealing with in your essay depend on and are related to the plot of "The Lottery." 

Generally, the plot reveals your thesis, as do the other elements.  Specifically, the plot first reveals the people as normal, everyday people.  It must do that, before it can move the reader to step two:  show these normal people being savage.  The savagery loses much of its power if these are abnormal people.  The setting and point of view reveal the town and the people to be normal, and so does the plot.  The kids play around and have just gotten out of school.  The people look forward to lunch and make small talk.  One woman forgets what day it is and comes to the gathering still wearing her apron.  The actions of the people are revealed as normal, right up until the savagery. 

The plot is what it is due to the limited point of view (inner thoughts are not revealed, since these would give away the real nature of the lottery), and the normal people live and act in a normal setting.  All three combine to demonstrate the savagery normal humans, given the right (or wrong) circumstances, are capable of.

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