The Lottery Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

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How is connotation used in "The Lottery"?  

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Jackson uses words with positive connotations early in the story to help establish a setting that seems idyllic and blithe, slowly building in negatively-connoted words later on; the contrast between the beautiful and happy setting and the events that take place there create irony and interest in the story. Early on, she uses words like "sunny" and "fresh" to describe the summer day. The flowers are "blossoming profusely" and the grass is "richly green." Even the word "lottery" itself typically has a positive connotation. A lottery is something one wins, and there is an element of exclusivity and luckiness within the word's connotation as well.

The major irony of the story is that the idyllic setting hides the horrible tradition maintained by the people of the town. The connotation of the words early in the story as well as the connotation of the word "lottery" mislead the reader, leading us to expect happy summer days where someone wins something wonderful; instead, we get a bloodthirsty...

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