Point Of View Of The Lottery

What is the point of view in "The Lottery"?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson, is told from the point of view of an objective, third person narrator. Let's explore what this means.

In the third person narrative, there are different options as to how the narrator will tell the story.

Whatever the narrator decides, the narrative in third person stems from the principle that the narrator is not involved in the story. The narrator is unattached.

Therefore, the narrator refers to the main characters by name, or by using the "he" or "she" pronouns when speaking about them. This is because narrator is not a part of the story.

However, in the third person narrative, there are also subcategories.

  • A limited third person narrator can tell you what the characters are thinking and feeling.
  • An objective third person will tell you nothing about feelings or thoughts. Instead, the reader will have to figure out why the main character does or feel the way she/he does.  
  • Then, there is the all-knowing, omniscient third person, who will tell you how everything happens and how characters feel. It will be revealed to you either completely, or partially. It is up to the narrator. 

Readers who love Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," often wish the narrative was limited third person, or at least partially omniscient, in order to know what in the world goes on in the minds of the villagers. Do they feel sorry for what they do? Are they aware of the barbaric nature of their lottery? Do the Hutchinson's feel any grief or loss?

We cannot answer these questions, which is part of what makes "The Lottery" such an intriguing story. Hence, it is safe to argue that the point of view in the story is an objective, third person narrative.  

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view in this story is the third-person point of view. That means the narrator is not one of the characters in the story. The narrator uses pronouns such as "he," "she," and "they." The narrator of this story is also telling the story from the omniscient point of view. The narrator is capable of jumping from person to person and group to group. That allows readers to experience descriptions from a wide, overview perspective, and it allows readers to essentially eavesdrop on various conversations as if we are a part of them. This perspective allows readers to feel as if we are a part of the lottery while at the same time being separate from its procedures.

The third-person perspective is important for this story because it allows the narration to describe the lottery in a natural sequence. If the story were told from Tessie Hutchinson's perspective, for example, readers might be alerted early to the true nature of the annual lottery.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The third person point of view allows readers to be a fly on the wall of a story. This is of extreme value in Jackson's The Lottery because of the dramatic contrast between the normal routine of society and the actual outcome of the purpose of the lottery. If the point of view was different, for example a first person point of view, value or bias or judgment would be involved and inserted in their narration. This would potentially give away what the lottery is, and that is not Jackson's intention, she relies on the element of surprise.

epollock | Student

The point of view of "The Lottery" is the dramatic or third-person objective. The narrator is an unnamed witness who is moving invisibly though the crowd, and thus is able to see and hear what is happening and how the townsfolk are responding. Sometimes the narrator seems close enough to people to hear and report what they say. At other times he or she is at a distance and thus simply reports actions and general reactions. In addition, the nameless narrator has a good supply of extra information about the background of the lottery and also about the activities of Messieurs Graves and Summers the night before.

timazn | Student

it is good