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

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view of "The Lottery" is the third person point of view.  

A third person point of view places the narrator outside of the events happening in the story.  The narrator obviously knows characters and things that are happening, but a third person narrator means that the story's narrator is not a character within the story.  More specifically, the narrator of "The Lottery" is narrating from the third person objective point of view.  This allows the narrator to jump from person to person and group to group.  Readers are allowed to listen in on various conversations as if we are eavesdropping on everybody.  

The fact that the narrator is only capable of eavesdropping on people is why this story's point of view is third person objective and not third person omniscient.  An omniscient narrator is privy to the internal thoughts of characters, and the narrator of "The Lottery" never indicates that knowledge. That's a good thing for this story too.  If readers knew the thoughts of the characters, the final shocking moments of the story wouldn't be as shocking.  

One natural effect of the third person narration is that readers feel a bit of distance from the events happening in the story.  We feel invested to a certain extent, but we also know that the events (good or bad) are always happening to somebody else.  That distance is important for this story.  While readers are appalled at the realistic feel of the lottery, we can at least take comfort that the people are not our personal friends.  It's not my town's tradition.  It's their town's tradition.  I've often wondered what this story might be like from the first person perspective.  I don't think the ending would be as shocking, because a character narrator would likely give away his/her apprehension about the lottery system.