The Lottery Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

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What are some literary devices in "The Lottery"?

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The author also uses symbolism. The black box into which the slips of paper are inserted is symbolic of fate and of the bizarre traditions the town follows. Though the black box is worn and shabby, the townspeople do not want to replace it. Jackson writes, "no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box." The black box represents the townspeople's stubborn clinging to traditions that don't make sense and that are, in fact, brutal. The stones are also symbolic of the hate that the townspeople direct to each other. For example, Jackson writes, "Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands." The stones that people hurl at the victim are large, suggesting that the townspeople are filled with animosity. 

The author also uses alliteration , or beginning words with the same sound. Examples are "tractors and taxes" and "black box." The use of alliteration makes these words eerily rhythmical and memorable, and the phrase "black...

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mmwhite978 | Student

Shirley Jackson utilizes many literary devices to advance the meaning and/or purpose of her short story, "The Lottery." Two prominent devices in the story are the use of foreshadowing and irony.

Foreshadowing is found at the beginning of the story where the children are collecting stones.  We learn that the "lottery" is a ritual this town performs every June 26 in which the "winner" is stoned to death by his/her community in order to have a bountiful harvest.  The collecting of stones at the beginning of the story foreshadows the use of the "weapon" the townspeople use to kill off one of their own at the end of the story.  

Irony is also used in the story; Tessie Hutchinson, the eventual "winner" of the lottery, is late to the ceremony because she didn't want to leave the dirty dishes in the sink for her family.  It's ironic because it will be last time she will clean the dishes, so it's almost like she knew she'd be chosen for the town's "sacrifice" and would be killed leaving her family to clean their own dishes from this day forward.  Irony is also found with the character, Old Man Warner, the town's oldest occupant.  He has been a member of the town for 77 years and makes a point to let his community know that it would be "barbaric" to end the "lottery" as is talked about in surrounding towns.  What is barbaric is this town's ritual of killing someone for crops.  So, not performing the lottery would be morally correct then continuing its barbaric ways.