The Lottery Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

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What are the symbols in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson?

Symbols in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson include the black box, which symbolizes the tradition of the lottery, and the stones, which symbolize human cruelty, death, and the support of the villagers for the tradition.

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There are a few significant symbols in "The Lottery":

The lottery-

The lottery, held every June, is a ritual that the villages follow. It symbolizes what Hannah Arendt called "the banality of evil." In other words, people in the different villages have become accepting of this cruel custom and think of it as a routine without feeling any moral repulsion. Often, too, there exists in the human being, a propensity for violence, as well as what Emerson termed, "the opium of custom." Just because the lottery has always been conducted, Old Man Warner believes it should continue. When one man tells him that some places have stopped having their lottery, Warner grumbles that doing so is foolish for the simple reason that "There's always been a lottery."

The black box-

Suggestive of a coffin, the black box contains the slips which are drawn by the villagers to determine who will be stoned. Since it contains every name in the village, no one escapes the lottery. It is stored each year in a specific...

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