In-depth analysis of some of the most popular short stories including summaries, character analysis, narrative technique, symbolism and much more.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Symbolism: The Lottery

Symbolism in The Lottery, The Lottery Symbolism
The Lottery Symbolism

Symbolism: The Lottery 

  The lottery itself is symbolic of the traditions of the people, and their reluctance to change. The lottery is an annual event, and though it is a senseless sacrifice of their fellow brethren, it is defended by the town’s people. It is a ritualistic sacrifice, which the town’s people believe will have an impact on their crops. Old Man Warner repeats a popular saying which states “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” which is evidence of their strong associations with the lottery. 

The lottery is also be symbolic of the idea of the greater good, and what it means to be a part of a community. The lottery though a wicked event somehow manages to live on as an established tradition because of this understanding. The people gather as if for an impending celebration, an atmosphere which the setting contributes to. The morning of the lottery is described as “[being] clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full …green.” The lottery functions as a unifying force which brings the people together, husband and wife, parent and child, neighbors are all brought together as a community. People are not coerced into attending the event, and they all willingly participate well aware of the possible conclusion.

The Black Box

The black box symbolizes the importance the people of the town place on tradition, and the critical role it plays in their lives. Like the traditions of the town, the black box is placed on a sort of pedestal (three legged stool), and is treated with reverence by the town's people during the lottery. Although Mr. Summers expresses his desire to have the box changed, the narrator notes that, " no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box." The significance of the black box is also shown in the comparison to Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, with the narrator noting that the box is older than even him.

It is interesting to note that with all the level of respect shown to the box, the box is not treated with much regard beyond the lottery. The box has no permanent home, and seems to move throughout the town at Mr. Summer's convenience. The narrator also notes that the black box is actually in poor condition and no longer black, which shows that the town's people seem to be more obsessed with the idea of the box than the box itself. The lottery is therefore more of an obsession with tradition, an idea, than an obsession with the perceived benefits.

The Stones

The stones symbolize the judgement, and the impending ritualistic death brought on by the lottery. From the very beginning we are given the idea that the stones may be associated with something negative. Although the gathering of the stones appear to be the simple act of kids playing, the narrator observes that the villagers "stood together, away from the pile of stones". The stones are used to enforce the judgement, and brings the community together in the final act of sacrifice.

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