What is the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, personal conflict, and resolution in "The Lottery"?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 1948 short story, "The Lottery," exposes the secrets of a tight-knit society whose otherwise normal facade hides a barbaric practice that has been kept alive for generations, only because nobody has bothered to question it. 

Exposition: The exposition "sets the stage" to the action that is about to take place. In this case, Jackson presents us with a typical ten o' clock morning on June 27th, described as "clear," "sunny," and "fresh." It is also an idyllic setting, by all accounts, as Jackson is sure to point out that the grass was "richly green" and the flowers were blooming "profusely." The town could be any town in New England, with just about 300 people. We also know that they are slowly gathering in the square for the celebration of their "lottery."

The rising action, or events that lead to the turning point of the story, seem inconsequential at first. We learn that rocks are being gathered. We learn also about the paraphernalia used to conduct the lottery, about the usual people who conduct it, and we get a faint idea about the rules. It all leads to the drawing of names by each family, particularly by the head of household.

In this interval, we see that someone is late to the lottery which, again, does not seem consequential until we learn what happens to that very character. It is Tessie who is late, and people are not too happy about it. Finally, the drawing of the names happens by each head of household selecting a piece of paper randomly. Whoever gets a paper with a black dot on it, will be the winning family for the first round of the lottery.

Climax- The turning point of the story: Bill Hutchinson draws the paper with the black dot on it. Someone from the Hutchinson family will be the lottery's winner on this day. 

Falling Action-Events that lead to the end of the story: Now, the Hutchinsons will have to draw from a second round, where they will have to randomly draw one paper out of 5 pieces of paper, each holding the name of each of the members of their family. 

Resolution- The end of the story: The selected name is Tessie's. She wins the lottery, which means that she will be stoned to death by the entire town. As such, they gather together with their rocks and do exactly so; they stone her to death. 

Personal conflict: Man vs. self;  Man vs. society.

Tessie may be one of the people mentioned in the story who say that they should do away with the lottery. 

"Some places have already quit lotteries." Mrs. Adams said. "Nothing but trouble in that," Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools."

She is late for it, and she expresses her distaste for it throughout. Nevertheless, she still takes part of it and, perhaps, would have continued to take a part in it had she not been selected. 

I think we ought to start over," Mrs. Hutchinson said, as quietly as she could. "I tell you it wasn't fair. You didn't give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that."

Hence, she is a part of something she does not believe in, but she continues to participate. On top of it, she fights the very people whom she later joins to, except when it comes to herself and her family. This is an example of a total contradiction and irony.

brendawm eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson begins (exposition) on a June day with people gathering in a village that seems to be filled with a celebratory air.  The only hint of something in the offing is the gathering of children piling stones nearby.  The rising action begins when the crowd begins to arrive, all families from around the village gather in the center of the little town.  Tessie Hutchinson rushes in blustering about being late and joins her family.  Soon the people begin to draw slips of paper from the black box.  The climax comes with the Hutchinson family drawing a slip of paper with a mark, and the reader reaches the realization through the reactions of the characters that the Lottery is not a good thing.  The story moves along very quickly from this point through the climax which finds Tessie the unlucky "winner" of the Lottery being stoned to death by all the people of the village, and I do mean all, even the smallest children are involved.  The falling action and the resolution are virtually combined as Tessie is left dead from the stoning and the people go on about their business, including her family, as if nothing has ever happened.  Hope this helps.

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Exposition: It is a warm June day in a wholesome good natured town where the people are kind, polite, and happy.

Rising Action: Most the tombstones in the cemetery have the same date of death June 6 and the town is getting ready for its annual lottery that takes place on June 6th. The lottery begins to take place. The town gathers and the names are drawn as people take a piece of paper and wait to see who the "winner" is.

Climax: The drawing of the slips of paper is finished and the townspeople begin to unfold their papers with sighs of relief. the "winner" is declared as the Hutchinson family and ultimately after the second drawing Tessie is declared the "winner".

Falling Action: The townspeople gather around her and stone her to death, thus completing their tradition.

Resolution: Life resumes as normal, until the following year.

Personal conflict: Tessie has no problem with the town's tradition until it is her family who is faced to make the sacrifice, then she declares it unfair. Other townspeople might also struggle inwardly at their actions and whether or not it could be considered murder or custom.

j0ko | Student

Yeah thats cool guys, thank you a lot!!!

megamuffin91 | Student

It is June 27th, not June 6th.

"The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day"

and there is no mention of tombstones or a cemetary in the story.

altheasroom | Student

The first reply above from Clane included inaccurate information and incorrect examples from the text.