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 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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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. 

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