What is the imagery in "The Lottery"?

1 Answer | Add Yours

drjrjherbert's profile pic

drjrjherbert | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

The imagery of the story tends to be employed through the use of synecdoche (i.e. the use of appropriately chosen small detail) rather than via comparisons (simile, metaphor, personification etc.) for the most part. There is considerable juxtaposition of different images within the story, for example the imagery of the setting is on a 'clear and sunny' day in June, something which is clearly meant to contrast to the deadly end of the story where Mrs Hutchinson is stoned by the other villagers. 

The perverse nature of the tradition of the lottery is also carefully constructed through the detailed description of the box that is described as 'no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood' - clearly, this is meant to show a long-lasting and revered tradition which has passed down through the generations.

The tradition is at first left ambiguous to the reader and the image of the children at first emerging from the school house in order to select their stones is at contrast to the macabre end of the story - they cannot help, for example, acting in a chid-like manner such that 'they broke into boisterous play' moments before a ceremony which, as we discover at the end, results in the brutal execution of one of their number. 

There are multiple examples of imagery used for characterisation such as, when the Hutchinsons have been selected, the description of the adolescent Bill Jr. with 'his face red and his feet overlarge' which careful expresses his gawky awkwardness and, of course, is meant to create tension about whether he is likely to 'win' the lottery - by this time we begin to get a sense of the sinister as we wonder and suspect what the stones maybe for. 

Once Mrs Hutchinson is selected, one of the final striking pieces of imagery is the stone that Mrs Delacroix selects which was 'so large she had to pick it up with both hands'. Of course, this is meant to demonstrate the hidden malevolence at the heart of the village, that Mrs Delacroix selects a stone in order to do maximum damage with it. 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,991 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question