What is the structure of "the Lottery"?Can you please correct me if I'm wrong: Exposition—Clear, sunny day; Villagers gather, people are nervous; (at the end) the withheld fact of what the...

What is the structure of "the Lottery"?

Can you please correct me if I'm wrong:

Exposition—Clear, sunny day; Villagers gather, people are nervous; (at the end) the withheld fact of what the Lottery is

Complication— Bill gets spot; Tessie argues that it wasn't fair and Bill didn’t have enough time; Hutchinson family draws papers

(Rising tension)

Crisis—Tessie gets the spot

Climax—Tessie stands in cleared space, villagers pick up stones

Resolution—Villagers surround Tessie, throw stones at her

(Dénouement—Tessie protests ”It isn’t fair, it isn’t right.)

The author's use of structure is so effective because there is the withheld element (of what the Lottery) that the reader discovers at the very end.

I need to write a five-paragraph essay on the structure of "the Lottery," so any tips or suggestions will also be much appreciated!


Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are right on with the structure.

A typical introduction (exposition) includes the setting (a summer day, June 27th, in a small village), introduction of characters (begins with the children, moves onto the idea that the entire town is to attend the meeting, and then breaks down into the introduction of key characters: Mr. Summers and a few other subordinate characters), and the plot (the villagers are meeting to conduct their annual lottery- for what readers do not know yet).

The rising action begins with the introduction of a conflict (some of the villagers are talking about stopping the lottery; some villagers are shown as tense; one woman Tessie comes late).  As the rising action continues, the conflict compounds and other conflicts may be introduced.

The climax is when the tension reaches its highest point( the head of households come up, one by one, and pull their paper; all of the heads of households open their papers) . In the case of "The Lottery", the climax is drawn out to provide more suspense (the climax begins with Bill getting the spot and ends right before Tessie gets stoned).

The falling action (denoument) happens when the crowd moves in to stone Tessie.

The conclusion (resolution) is when Tessie is protesting and the crowd closes in around her.

Given that short stories move very quickly from the climax to the resolution, some may argue as to what exists where.  Therefore, support for deciding why a piece of a story exists as part of the climax, the denoument, or the conclusion is very necessary.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Something to consider in an assessment of plot:

What keeps the reader on the outside of understanding the real complication are the incongruous actions of many of the characters in the exposition and in the rising action.  For instance, there are small, non sequitur actions committed by minor characters.  In the exposition, the children talk of the classroom and the teacher as they stuff their pockets with stones.  While three boys make a large pile of stones that they guard, but the girls merely stand talking, casually glancing over their shoulders at the boys.  Further, the reader is yet thrown off when Tessie is dilatory about coming to the town gathering, Mr. Summers--a pleasant name--says "cheerfully,"  "Thought we were going to have to get on without out, Tessie." And, Tessie answers that she has had to do her dishes.  In a two others scenes, Mr. Summer waits in "polite interest" and makes a "note on the list." So many actions seem innocuous on their own throughout the exposition and the rising action that the climax is absolutely startling to readers.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is structured along the narrative form of a short story. The most distinctive things are the exposition and the surprise ending. The exposition, from "The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny ..." to "as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins," is surprisingly long as Jackson spends a disproportionate amount of time setting up the exposition, or backstory, of "The Lottery." The resolution is a chilling surprise ending that sheds a whole new light on the individuals who participate in the tradition set up in the long exposition:

"All right, folks." Mr. Summers said. "Let's finish quickly."

... 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."

" ... go ahead and I'll catch up with you." ...

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center ... [and] held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. ... A stone hit her on the side of the head.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Something I forgot:

Given that you have to write an essay on the structure, make sure that you support why you are placing specific parts of the story in the aspect that you are.  Jackson's structure is very important given her use of foreshadowing and irony is critical to the outcome and surprise ending. You can use the examples of foreshadowing and irony to enhance your essay.


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The Lottery

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