I need a thesis statement regarding a significant universal symbol in the story "The Lottery."

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Another universally symbolic meaning in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is attached to the character of Old Man Warner, whose narrow-minded mantra is "Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon."  Representative of all those who believe ideas or repeat actions simply because they are part of their culture--"Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery"--Old Man Warner is backward and ignorant, a slave to a hideous ritual that he blindly accepts solely because it is a custom.

Therefore, in composing a thesis, you can use Old Man Warner as the symbolic instrument of the concept of any action or belief that is passed down from generation to generation that is blindly accepted and followed unquestioningly, no matter how cruel, unreasonable, or even strange.  For support of this, there is Warner himself as well as the others in the village who follow suit by complying with the violent ritual even after speaking in a friendly manner to the victim of this violence.

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lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I chose imagery and details as the supporting evidence for the black box's symbolism, but you could easily substitute in whatever form of literary analysis you prefer.

1. Thesis Statement:  Shirley Jackson uses imagery and details to portray the black lottery box as a universal symbol for death in her short story "The Lottery."

or

2. Thesis Statement:  Shirley Jackson portrays the black box as a universal symbol for death as the great equalizer in her short story "The Lottery."

I would focus on four key elements in regard to the box:  1) the black color, 2) the history and visual details, 3) the villagers' reactions to the box, giving it a wide berth, and 4) the ultimate function of the box as revealed by the story's brutal ending. 

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