How does the reader’s point of view on the lottery change over the course of the story?

Although "The Lottery" begins with positive imagery, characters such as Old Man Warner begin to shift the tone as the story develops. Old Man Warner, a character who resists change, is the central voice of tradition in the story and is fundamental in developing the theme about the dangers of blindly following tradition.

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"The Lottery " starts out with an objective tone that makes the reader feel comfortable. The narrator recounts the beautiful first days of summer, the kids playing, and the town folk heading to the center to partake in the lottery. But over time, the reader learns what it means...

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"The Lottery" starts out with an objective tone that makes the reader feel comfortable. The narrator recounts the beautiful first days of summer, the kids playing, and the town folk heading to the center to partake in the lottery. But over time, the reader learns what it means to "win" the lottery, and their point of view of the lottery shifts from a positive affair to a dark and tragic tradition.

At the beginning of the story, the narrator makes the lottery seem like a "normal" affair. Everyone gathers to perform this yearly tradition, and the word lottery having a positive connotation reassures the reader that this event is seemingly good. It's even compared to other positive events when the narrator introduces Mr. Summers, the person who runs the lottery.

The lottery was conducted ­­as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program­­ by Mr. Summers who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. He was a round­faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him because he had no children and his wife was a scold.

Here, the reader is told to be more concerned about Mr. Summers' wife and lack of kids than the lottery itself. It reinforces the idea that the lottery isn't a big deal.

The text continues for several paragraphs to objectively explain the age of the tradition and the box that held the slips of paper used for this event. Words like "nervously" are used, but the reader could understand this to mean the group is nervous with excitement. People seemed to laugh at jokes and made light-hearted comments which veil the reality they are facing.

It's not until everyone looks at their slips of paper and Tessie shouts, "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!" that the reader starts to shift their point of view. Why would someone be mad about winning a lottery? But the more Tessie tries to make someone else the "winner," the more suspicious the reader becomes.

However, it's not until the very end of the story that it's implied the winner dies. Once the reader realizes the lottery is a sacrificial community tool, their perspective of the lottery changes from a positive idea to a negative consequence.

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Check out all those beautiful and calm adjectives in the opening paragraph. The day is clear and sunny. The grass is "richly green." People gather for a lottery and hope to be home for "noon dinner." After reading this first paragraph, the reader anticipates a positive outcome for this lottery on such a calm and beautiful day, new life reflected in the setting itself. There is nothing to indicate that something horrific is on the horizon, so the reader expects that the lottery is a pleasant tradition.

Things change quickly once the drawing begins, however. Suddenly, the tone begins to turn ominous, particularly with Old Man Warner's predictions. He doesn't like that some people are turning away from tradition and calls those who try to break away from the lottery a "pack of crazy fools," indicating that he resists change and values tradition. After all, there has always been a lottery, according to the town's history, and no one can even remember how it all began. Although ultimately they sacrifice a citizen, there is no remorse in doing so because this is what tradition asks of them. They have always performed a lottery, and without questioning it, they will continue to do so. People follow the mandates of the group and participate in cruelty because they simply accept it as the tradition of their society.

If you consider that introductory paragraph again and then how you feel when little Davy Hutchinson picks up a few pebbles to stone his mother, it is clear that the story ends quite unexpectedly. Gone are the images full of new life from those first sentences, and instead we are left with the horrific image of a young boy who participates in the stoning of his own mother simply because everyone participates in the stoning of a citizen each year. The reader's expectations have been completely turned upside down. We typically connote a "lottery" with a joyous inheritance of unexpected wealth. Instead, the term is used to convey the random selection of a citizen who must die simply because tradition says so.

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