How does Jackson both foreshadow the ending and make use think this is just an ordinary town?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author begins her story by allowing the reader to believe that it is about an ordinary town on an early summer day.  It is suggested that the town is gathering for an event that is similar to a county fair, or a town picnic.  It is an annual event and the children are assembling and running around collecting rocks. 

We don't know what the event is, because the preparations and the assembly of people who gather do not give us any indication that they are gathering for a random execution.

The title of the story suggests that something is going to be raffled off and that there will be a winner in the truest sense. 

The first time that the reader really gets the idea that the lottery is not a happy, positive event is when the slips of paper are chosen and a hush, a nervous quiet falls over the crowd as everyone waits till each family has chosen a slip.

When the Hutchinson family gets the black dot, and they have to pick again, the author foreshadows the true nature of the lottery because Mrs. Hutchinson complains that the selection process was rushed.  It is clear that if there was a prize of value to go to the winner, she would not be complaining.

The ending is very surprising, for the level of cruelty that Shirley Jackson gives to the members of the town and the cold indifference they express as they stone Tessie Hutchinson to death, relieved that they have survived.          

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think most people are suprised by the ending of the story if they have not previously read it. Upon another reading, however, one can more easily pick up other instances of foreshadowing.  For instance, the boys gather pebbles and stones in a pile at the beginning of the story.  Also, people are speaking rather quietly and they are subdued, which is not indicative of a raucous, exciting lottery draw!  

As the story progresses, there are more instances of foreshadowing, including the black box and the behavior of Tess when she "wins."  

One of the techniques Jackson uses to lull the reader into complacency is through her use of the setting.  The town and state are never named in the story. Also, the time period is not revealed.  This is because Jackson wanted the story to be one that could be happening in ANYTOWN, USA and at any time.  Her theme is a universal one, which was her show the inhumanity of violence in our society and how we have become so apathetic about it.

miniacoustic | Student

I was not really surprised about the ending.

When Bill got the slip with the mark, Tess was constantly complaning about how it wasn't fair. That raisd my curiosity that perhaps, the winner was to be taken somewhere or being killed.

At the second draw. People are murmuring "I hope it's not Nancy..." In a tone that contained no jealousy but worried. Tess's expression when getting the black dot paper was obvious that it would not be a good thing at all.

What really surprised me was how they used the stones to do this terrfying murder. In the beginning Jackson stated that children were gathering stones, they were the ones perparing for the end. Willingly to do so. I was thinking that they might just be playing some sort of games.

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The Lottery

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