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Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is a story filed with irony and contradictions. The mood, therefore, is very important to the text as a whole.
The story opens in this way:
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. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 2th. But, in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.
This leads readers to believe that the mood is one which is lighthearted given the sunny and clear day. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The mood changes rather abruptly given one can sense the tension in the air. The mood then changes from light conversations and smiles to the following:
When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of conversation among the villagers, and he waved and called. "Little late today, folks." The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying a three- legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool.
Here, the mood is defined as tense and worrisome. The villagers are worried about something. This is notated by the distance they keep from the box and stool.
By the end of the story, readers can see the change of mood. It transforms from the opening of the text, where the day is described as clear and fresh, to the end of the text where the stoning of a villager takes place. While the scene is depicted as beautiful, the actions depict anything but.
Though this story has a rich abundance of elements, Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" contains both horror and shock. The two are not mutually exclusive, for the surprise depends upon delaying the concluding information until the very end, and the horror is coincidental with the ritualized public murder. These two elements in particular are extremely important to discover as the reader is left with no doubt in their mind that doing anything without meaning can be harmful, and in this particular case, deadly. This is a perfect story to go over on any holiday occurrence or whenever you do something and have lost the meaning for doing it.
Mood is the atmosphere and the tone that the author creates. we can see this through diction, the author's choice of words.
The story begins with a vivid description of a green, flowering place on a bright June morning. This description builds a happy mood. The cheerfulness of the setting prepares the reader for a pleasant story. The sunny setting and cheerful mood contrast strongly with the villagers' dark, disturbing crime at the story's conclusion. This contrast increases the story's impact because the reader expects a pleasant story after reading the exposition. The horror of the events in this cheerful place is even more unsettling.
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