What is the tone of Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery"?
The tone of "The Lottery" is objective and detached. The narrator writes in the calm, journalistic style of a neutral bystander reporting on a scene they are not part of. This journalistic tone is set in the opening paragraph, which is full of facts—such as the date, (June 27th), how many people participate in the lottery, and how long it takes.
The very neutral tone of the narrator provides a contrast to the shocking and grisly event being described, heightening the reader's surprise and horror at what unfolds. There is nothing in the narrator's tone to tip us off to the fact that this is...
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In the beginning the setting opens in an everyday American almost nostalgic town. But as the story continues beyond the first page, much of the language contributes to hints of discomfort or nervousness. Words throughout the middle like "nervously", "humorlessly", "awkwardly", and "a sudden hush fell over the crowd" all help us feel the tension that we as readers don't really understand in the moment. In describing Mrs. Delacroix, Jackson writes: