How would you describe the atmosphere of excitement in the story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson?

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mizzwillie's profile pic

mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, there is an atmosphere of excitement in the story.  The atmosphere comes from several things. First, the lottery happens only once a year and it is important to the village for their crops though some are beginning to question its value.  Every family is affected as you can see by the hurry to get dressed and be there on time.  Every family feels the tension as they call to each other on the way to the meeting ground.   Picking up the rocks adds to the tension as the purpose for the meeting intensifies.  When the Bill Hutchinson's name is announced, all the other families relax,  When Tessie, his wife who had arrived late, is the member of the family chosen for sacrifice, the villagers begin the process of throwing rocks, not allowing any escape from the judgment of the lottery.

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The atmosphere of the lottery gathering that occurs in the story is quite festive. Readers are introduced to town members all gathering together and talking in small, friendly groups. Children are running around chasing each other and picking up stones. We also learn that the lottery happens once a year, so it is one of those "big deal" town events. I imagine it being like a small town's Fourth of July picnic barbecue or similar. Additionally, the very concept of a lottery is generally a happy concept. When someone wins a lottery drawing, they are usually getting some kind of fun reward.

By the end of the story, though, Jackson flips the atmosphere completely around when the reader finally discovers what the "winner" of the lottery actually gets—death by stoning.


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