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Since mood is really the feeling a reader gets from a piece of literature, the mood of Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" can be described as dreadful, as gloomy, or as horrible. Because the story begins with such ordinary details as watching a clock or thinking about dinner, the reader must look carefully to detect the tension in the people who though they greet one another, they avoid eye contact. The grumbling about changing the tradition also gives the observant reader pause as to why people are reluctant. When the families are gathered and the names drawn, the reader can feel the dark mood intensify as the crowd begins to pick up rocks. When the mother is selected and protests, she is drowned out by the rocks hitting her and starting the process of her dying in front of even her children. The mood is dark, depressing, and dreadful in the anticipation and carrying out of a tradition which is blindly followed.
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