Why is pt of view consistent with the dramatic pt of view in "The Lottery"?

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dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Concerning your question about Jackson's "The Lottery," I think you're asking why the point of view in this short story is like the point of view one might usually experience when viewing drama (a play).  When reading or viewing a play, of course, one only sees and hears actions and dialogue, rather than being let in on character thoughts or receiving explanations from the writer.  This is true, for the most part, anyway (choruses and soliloquies are the exceptions).  And your observations about "The Lottery" are accurate.  The point of view is similar to a drama's. 

The narrator in "The Lottery" is objective and matter-of-fact, detached.  He/she reports only what is seen and heard, like a dramatist would.  The narration must be objective in order to create the surprise ending and, therefore, the horror that comes with it. 

The narrator presents the town and the people as ordinary, normal.  These are people like any other, and the town is like any other.  There is nothing extraordinary about either.  That makes the ending a surprise, and shocking.

And the normality present in the story is the point.  Normal, everyday people are capable of great cruelty when it is possible to be cruel and not be punished for it.  Normal, everyday people are capable of abnormal acts when tradition or the community dictate or support the acts.  Nazis were not the only ones to persecute Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals in WWII, for instance.  Entire towns in Poland, the Ukraine, etc., persecuted minorities once the door was opened to do so, figuratively speaking, by the Nazis in WWII. 

Reporting only actions and dialogue is how the narrator portrays normal people capable of horrible things.

Top Answer

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Consistent with the dramatic point of view, the speaker excludes from the narration any attempt to interpret the purpose of the lottery. By withholding knowledge in this way, Jackson builds up the suspense of the story. It would not be consistent if this information was revealed and it would also give you a hint into the action that is to come later in the story. This would cause a loss in suspense and lead a reader into thinking of a possible conclusion that might be right, and end up taking some of the grandeur away from the story itself. This story has a very consistent and rightful point of view.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I agree with the previous editor but would like to add that by remaining placate and allowing the emotion of the incident with Tess and the revelation of the true dynamics of the lottery, the narrator demonstrates how a society can observe a tragedy and horrific action and do nothing because.  The narrator allows the events to unfold and keeps his comments to himself allowing the reader to speculate on the behavior of the community and why they would do nothing to help Tessie.  He gives hints at the reasons such as the need for tradition as stated by the old man, but generally he allows for reader speculation.  The drama then comes in the form of the reader's won response to Tessie's death and the following behavior of the members who stoned her to death.

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