How does the setting of The Lottery contribute to the outcome?

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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The setting of Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery contributes greatly to the outcome of the story.

First, the setting of the story is ironic.

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.

Once one comes to the end of the story, they can see how the sunny summer day and referenced to life (flowers blooming and green grass) conflict the death of Tessie. One would not expect such happening on a day as the one described. Instead, one would be able to see the stoning happening on a cold day in winter where no flowers or green grass exists.

Another way the setting impacts the story is the fact that the community is one set in a rural area. Rural areas are set apart from others, typically by many miles. Therefore, the isolation that is embedded is apparent. The rules of rural areas are very different from those of urban ones. Urban areas are more likely to move on from past traditions (at a faster rate). Locations, such as the village in the story, tend to cling to tradition and have a hard time to move away from them. It is simply their way of life and no one (outsiders) is there to contradict their traditions.

dmcgillem's profile pic

dmcgillem | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

The fact that "The Lottery" takes place in a small, rural area is a hugely contributing factor to the outcome.  This type of area tends to be stereotypically isolated both physically and socially, with villagers steeped in traditions and superstitions and suspicious of "outsiders."  It is this isolation that allows the lottery to continue and gives the villagers the reason they need to's what they've done for decade upon decade, and they feel justified.

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