in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" How does she foreshadow the endingWould some one tell me how does the author forshadow the ending in this story please? thanks

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the great aspects of this story is that there is so little foreshadowing, that the ending is so unexpected.  In retrospect, however, the reader can find small little clues that the author leaves to foreshadow the ominous reality of the lottery. 

The first clue occurs right at the beginning of the short story as the boys:

"made a great pile of stones in the corner of the square and guarded it against the raids from the other boys."

Jackson also mentions that:

"Bobby Martin has already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones."

The inclusion of these details makes the reader ponder the purpose of the stones.  Most readers would not come to the conclusion that the boys would use the rocks to kill someone, but would probably conclude that perhaps they were going to go skip rocks down at the lake or something. 

The ritual aspects of the lottery process also suggest something unusual, the fact that the box is locked in the coal company office coupled with the proceedings where the official leads a chant.

The nervous reactions of the crowd to the drawings also make the reader sense that the lottery holds some darker meaning or purpose.  For example, when the Watson boy draws for the first time, he "blink[s] his eyes nervously" and a few voices in the crowd reassure him:  "Good fellow...glad to see your mother's got a man to do it."



favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another example of foreshadowing, if not of the specific ending then at least of some sense of the danger ahead, is when the narrator describes the men of the village as they gather in the square. The narrator says that 

They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed.

The fact that the men try to avoid the stones which the boys are piling up already might make us wonder why they would. Stones are only stones, unless they are used for something unpleasant. Further, their jokes are quiet and they do not laugh aloud, only smiling at most. Something is clearly dampening their spirits and it seems to be connected with the reason for the gathering.

Later, when Mr. Summers arrives with the black box and three-legged stool on which to put it, "there was a murmur . . .  among the villagers" as though the sight of him or the ceremony over which he is to preside is somehow disturbing to them. Then, the narrator tells us, 

The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool.

There is also some hesitation when Mr. Summers asks for assistance, implying that people didn't want to touch the box or stool either. Why would grown men and women back away from such innocuous-looking objects? Again, they must represent or call to mind something very unpleasant, and that unpleasant thing is foreshadowed by details like these.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Lottery," Jackson foreshadows the stoning of Tessie Hutchinson early in the story. If you take a look at the second paragraph, you will see that she uses imagery to do this. Bobby Martin, for example, is described as stuffing stones into his pockets. There are also other boys who select the "smoothest and roundest stones." In the same paragraph, a group of boys make a large pile of stones and guard them against the "raids" of other boys.

Similarly, in the third paragraph, Jackson describes how the men stand together, away from the pile of stones.

By highlighting the collecting and gathering of stones, Jackson subtly hints at the violence which takes place at the end of the story; specifically, the singling out of Tessie Hutchinson and the use of these stones to kill her.  

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The Lottery

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