What passage should I choose from the story "the Lottery" to make my explanation essay?I have to write a 3 page long explication essay from a passage of the story "The lottery". I would like some...

What passage should I choose from the story "the Lottery" to make my explanation essay?

I have to write a 3 page long explication essay from a passage of the story "The lottery". I would like some help on which passage to choose, what thesis statement should I use from this passage and what details should I emphasis to explain from this passage? Thanks for your help!!! God Bless!!!

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since the horror of "The Lottery" lies in the fact that the townspeople have become so conditioned to the town's custom that they are inured to its cruelty, you may wish to use this as the focus of your paper. The paragraphs near the end of the story seem appropriate for this purpose:

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones....Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar, 'come on,' she said. 'Hurry up.'

     Mrs. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said, gasping for breath, 'I can't run at all. You'll have to go ahead and I'll catch up with you.'

     The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

(This unthinking conditioning is a theme in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," an anti-utopia in which order is maintained by dehumanizing and conditioning the inhabitants of the New World.  Clearly, the residents of Mrs. Hutchinson's town have become such inhabitants in their ritualized behavior as the individual submits to the tyranny of the status quo)


Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might use the first 3 or 4 paragraphs, which provide the exposition of the story.  Jackson presents an idyllic setting, leading the reader to the set-up for a shocking ending.

The first paragraph presents a peaceful setting, with life teeming in the village (flowers blossoming, green grass, etc.). The low population ensures that people know each other, and care for each other (which will make the outcome of the lottery even more horrific). 

In the second paragraph is the picture of innocence--children feeling the "liberty" (as oposed to the implied opressive system which dictates the lottery).  The stones are gathered, providing a foreshadowing of violence.

In the third paragraph, men are discussing daily life.  They are avoidng the pile of stones collected by the children.  The pile of stones is repeatedly mentioned. 

Mr. Summers (who conducts the lottery) is used to provide juxtaposition for the coming horrlr.  He is described as "jovial" though he has reason to be anything but (no children, a scold for a wife).    A hint of tension is present as the villagers keep their distance from the black box used in the lottery.

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One passage that is very relevant to any explanation of the story "The Lottery,' is how this event falls in with other ordinary activities that occur in this town each and every year.  One of the most chilling impacts that Shirley Jackson makes with this story is how easily adapted to the yearly human sacrifice that takes place at this time of year.

"The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program--by Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities."

The way that the people assemble for this execution is like they are gathering for a picnic.  There is an absolute detachment from the cruel, violent, murder that will occur after the poor person "wins" the lottery.    

Read the study guide:
The Lottery

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