Conversely, how does Jackson lull us into thinking that "The Lottery" is an ordinary story set in an ordinary town?
I would like to know the answer to this question since it has me baffled for quite some time now. If anyone could help me, I would gladly appreciate it.
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"The Lottery" takes place in an small and unnamed village. This being said, one can initially infer that nothing of much importance, or horror, would happen in such a rural town on such a beautiful day. The day is described as a "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 morning is very similar to one that many people can relate to. This allows readers to be at ease with the story from the very beginning.
Outside of that, the people in the town seem relatively at ease. The villagers seem to be carrying on the typical banter of those engaged in normal everyday life.
Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed. The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands.
The villagers seem to be at ease, not speaking of what is to come and actually talking and joking about normal things.
It is not until the lottery actually gets underway that the mood begins to change. Therefore, Jackson "lulls" readers into being content with the beauty of the summer day and the casual conversations and joking taking place between the villagers.
There are two major ways that Shirley Jackson misleads the reader, making us think that this is an ordinary town and an ordinary story. The first way is through the imagery that she uses, which creates a peaceful opening for the story. The first few lines, for instance, state, "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." In the next paragraph, she begins, "he children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play." Through these descriptions, all scenes that any audience could relate to, and all actions that are commonplace, Shirley Jackson leads the reader to believe that this is in fact an typical, boring little town.
The second strategy that Shirley Jackson uses is the point of view. She writes from a very objective, very detached, perspective. Because of this, we only see the superficial setting and the appearance of the people. There is no indictation that anything is atypical, therefore, because to the townspeople, the events are an annual tradition. Since the narrator only shows their outward characteristics, we only see the celebration of a loved town tradition.
It should be noted once again that Shirley Jackson does a marvelous job of writing in "The Lottery." The setting, the characters, the dialogue, the pacing, the mood, the surprise ending--everything is perfect. There is a boldness about the conception that is admirable. This explains why the story is so often anthologized and why it is assigned reading in so many English classes. It conveys an important message about human character, but it is also a remarkably fine work of fiction. It is her masterpiece.
And the story is The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Sorry for the lack of information.
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