Examine the contrast betwen the setting of The Lottery and the characters.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The contrast between the setting of Jackson's story and its characters helps to enhance its meaning and effectiveness.  Jackson's description of the setting is quaint.  There is an "other- world" charm to the small town.  It is a beautiful and sunny June morning.  The children are playing as they have just started summer break and there is an air of pristine beauty in the town's descriptions.  This helps to establish the overall likability of the characters.  Mr. Summers is a likable guy, in how he gives for public service.  He freely chats back and forth with others in the town.  Mrs. Delacroix and even Tessie share humorous insights and a sense of lightness to what is happening.  Even Old Man Warner can be seen as the town curmudgeon, the traditionalist that adds to the town's appeal.

Jackson's purpose in linking such a description of the town and its characters together helps to enhance the overall meaning that cruelty and human evil can be seen in any location and with any people.  First time readers have difficulty comprehending how these characters embrace savagery with an almost blithe and banal approach.  Mr. Summers' matter- of- fact approach to Tessie's stoning is shockingly brutal.  Mrs. Delacroix's zeal towards finding a big stone with which to assault her friend is another example of this pivot between initial description of town and character and individual action.  The bucolic splendor of the town and the charm of the townspeople help to set the stage for atrocity, causing the reader to reflect that if it can happen there and with these folks, evil is a universal reality that must be understood in order for it to be stopped.