Mr. Adams states that in a neighbouring village they don't even have a lottery. Old Man Warner responds that those villagers are "pack of crazy fools." Why is this ironic?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This statement by Old Man Warner is "The Lottery" is an example of verbal irony. He claims that the neighboring villagers are acting like a pack of crazy fools in talking of giving up their lottery, when the reality is that he and Mr. Adams and all the people in his own village are acting exactly like a pack of crazy fools. The irony will not be appreciated immediately, however, because the true nature of the lottery is not yet clear. The reader may appreciate the irony retrospectively or may only appreciate it on a second reading. "The Lottery" is such a perfectly constructed story that it deserves a second reading to appreciate all its subtleties. Even on the first reading, the reader will not have a great deal of respect for Old Man Warner and his opinions because he is obviously a closed-minded, cantankerous, opinionated, reactionary, nearly senile character. He belongs to a "type" which most of us have met at one time or another. The word "crazy" is significant because the people engaging in this lottery are worse than merely ignorant or superstitious: they are actually all crazy without realizing it. The word "fools" is also significant, because these people must be fools to believe that stoning one of their members to death is going to have any influence on the corn crops.

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