Please explain the symbolism of the following in "The Lottery":  black box, black spot on paper, piles of stones. 

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short story, The Lottery is a combination of ordinary, simple life events, like washing the dishes, and the annual horrific ritual killing of a member of the community that appears to be accepted without resistance by all members of the town.

Mrs. Hutchinson's apron would be a symbol for everyday life, normal life, like any other housewife, she was washing the dishes.  This normal activity is measured against the deadly intent of the black spot on the slip of paper and the pile of stones that stand ready for the execution of an innocent victim.

The black box is a symbol of tradition, the ritual commencement of taking out the black box each and every year in order to hold the annual lottery where one family is targeted for selection and must surrender the member of the family who chooses the slip marked with the black spot, a symbol of death.

At the end of the story, the stones as they are thrust upon the helpless Mrs. Hutchinson, delivering her death becomes a task that the members of the town want to get over with quickly.  Not because they care about the victim, but simply because they want to get back to their everyday lives. 

The actual killing is a non-event for these people who are just relieved that they did not get the slip of paper with the black dot.  Striking with stone after stone has no meaning other than as a required activity that the town sponsors and mandates that everyone attend.

 

Read the study guide:
The Lottery

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question