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In Shirley Jackson's "the lottery" at what point in this story did you know what was...

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joellle | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted April 21, 2012 at 2:37 AM via web

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In Shirley Jackson's "the lottery" at what point in this story did you know what was going to happen

I'm reading this story and a few questions I need help in, could someone give me a hand please? Thanks Joelle

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 21, 2012 at 2:31 AM (Answer #2)

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When I first read this story, the ending took me completely by surprise.  I did not suspect, not even the slightest, what the outcome would be until the part in the story when the characters begin to draw their slips.  Here the tension between the characters became so much more palpable.   The moment when the Watson boy nervously steps forward for his mother, and the crowd reassures him: "Glad to see your mother's got a man to do it." 

Everything begins to fall into place here, and the reader cannot help but question the strange proceedings--why everyone is so tense, the characters who "grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously." 

Tessie's reaction really says it all--her disbelief at being chosen and her frantic protests for a redraw reveal that the outcome of "The Lottery" is definitely not positive.

Kristen Lentz

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 21, 2012 at 3:43 AM (Answer #3)

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Me too... I was completely surprised.  So I had no idea what was going to happen until the end.  It just seemed too ordinary of a story to have something so horrible happen at the end.  I guess, though, that that is what Jackson was trying for.

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

Posted April 21, 2012 at 6:13 PM (Answer #4)

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When I first read the story, I had no clue what was going to happen. After reading the ending, I went back and reread the story. I was surprised to discover that I missed all of the foreshadowing Jackson included in the tale.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 21, 2012 at 7:08 PM (Answer #5)

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Like the others, Shirley Jackson's story is so superbly subtle that I was caught completely unaware of the sinister ending.  For one thing, where has there ever been a lottery was was violent?  Jackson's use of this term certainly disguised the hideous ending.

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litlady33 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted April 22, 2012 at 12:21 AM (Answer #6)

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The ending caught me completely by surprise. I believe that Shirley Jackson purposefully leads the reader to believe that the reader is a positive thing because, as an above poster mentioned, the word "lottery" is typically associated with winning something good. When the reader goes back to read the story a second time, he or she realizes that there are clues to suggest that the lottery is a negative thing, but they are clues that are only seen in hindsight. The reader is too caught up in the presupposition that a lottery is a good thing to catch these clues on the first reading. I believe this is an intentional use of irony on Jackson's part.

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

Posted April 23, 2012 at 11:54 PM (Answer #7)

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Along with everyone else, I did not know until the end.  Who would ever think that a short story entitled "The Lottery" would end in such horrific fashion?  The entire story, from the title to the ending, is filled with irony.  It is also interesting to think about what lessons this story teaches us and how those lessons may still be relevant to us today.

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted April 26, 2012 at 9:30 PM (Answer #8)

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From my recollection, I never did catch on to what was going to happen until it happened. I remember rereading multiple times to fully grasp that what I read was what it said. Then I scoured the text to see if I should have seen it coming. This story is one of the ones that threaten to make me swear off reading forever!

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