The Lottery Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

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What is the tone of Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery"?

The tone of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" may be described as moving from tranquil to apprehensive and disturbing. The narrator's tone in telling the story is objective and detached.

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Rose Blackburn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the beginning of "The Lottery," the author effectively lulls the reader into a false sense of tranquility. The first words used to describe the scene are "clear and sunny." She goes on to tell of a warm day in a quaint village with flowers and green grass. Once the scene is set, the first characters to arrive are the children. Their arrival continues the feelings of comfort and normality. Upon reading the story for the first time, the reader is unaware that the gathering of stones by the children is the first sign of things to come.

An indication of a slight change in the tone occurs when it is stated that the men smile rather than laugh at each other's jokes. There is now some apprehension as noted when the "villagers kept their distance" from the stool and the black box. Although there is mention of the lottery, the comparison of this event to others such as dances or Halloween activities keeps the reader from knowing what the lottery entails.

Following some history of the details and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 873 words.)

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monassar19 | Student

In the beginning the setting opens in an everyday American almost nostalgic town. But as the story continues beyond the first page, much of the language contributes to hints of discomfort or nervousness. Words throughout the middle like "nervously", "humorlessly",  "awkwardly", and "a sudden hush fell over the crowd" all help us feel the tension that we as readers don't really understand in the moment. In describing Mrs. Delacroix, Jackson writes: