In the story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, how do the commonplace details of life and folksy language contribute to the impact of the story?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shirley Jackson uses the commonplace details of life and folksy language to lure the reader into a false sense of security.  The small town feeling seems so secure and comfortable to the reader that it becomes difficult to imagine anything evil taking place there.  The townspeople themselves, having their ordinary conversations about crops, do not fit the mold of cold-blooded killers.  Jackson chooses her details carefully to fit within the parameters of small town life in rural America.  When the reader reaches the climax of the story to find these characters carrying out a stoning upon one of their own, the shock-value of it all is tremendous, because the ending is so unexpected. 

"The Lottery" offers a lesson on appearances--just because someone or something may seem wholesome and good, does not mean that the reality matches the outward appearance of goodness.  The village in "The Lottery" with its hometown charm and appeal harbors a deadly ritual.  The ending of Jackson's story continues to shock readers, because they had trusted in the feel-good quality of the small town. 

pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The folksy language and the events of small town life depicted in "The Lottery" give one an idea that this event is nothing out of the ordinary.  The reader is calm until the end as the people stone the victim to death per their ritual.  One also gets an idea that rituals like this can happen anywhere, especially since "normal" people uphold them in the story.  What the reader may regard as barbaric, the characters in the story regard as quite normal.  

Additionally, the folksy language may also help the reader initially identify with the characters.  Jackson's short story was meant for the general population, and the general population normally feels at ease in small towns.  Both businesses and leaders claim to have "small-town" values.  The climax of Jackson's story is shocking, and it is intended to stay with the reader for a long time.  

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The Lottery

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