In The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, she speaks much about tradition in a small town in which many have been lost over the years. The black box, which Shirley speaks about in the beginning of the story, is of great importance. The black box represents the entrapment of tradition and the change over time. It is the trapping of tradition because now that it is worn and ragged they still do not want to change it because it is tradition. Along with the box changing many peoples views on The Lottery, it also lets the towns people stand strong by themselves.Shirley Jackson in The Lottery uses symbolism and irony to foreshadow death.
Although the towns people are gathering for a lottery drawing there is an air of nervousness about the event. From start to finish there is an overwhelming sense that something terrible is about to happen due to the authors deep use of foreshadowing. The setting and irony of the story starts when the day is described as a bright sunny day and all the towns people are looking forward for the Lottery on the big day, but not knowing the big day ends in death. Mrs. Hutchinson, as is seen later, is the only one who rebels against male domination, although only unconsciously. “She tapped Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way through the crowd” (318). The word “farewell” is used as foreshadowing to the climax of the story (318). Normally when a person enters a crowd of people they are greeted, but not Mrs. Hutchinson for she is obviously leaving. Although they are gathering for a lottery drawing there is an air of nervousness about the event. Shirley Jackson uses an abundance of foreshadowing, which indicates, to a degree, what is about to happen to the winner of the lottery drawing. There is at least one indicator within each individual paragraph, which lets the reader know that the lottery is disturbing, and that the people of the town are not looking forward to its commencement.
The Lottery takes place on a clear, sunny, June day. It does not take long for the skies to turn gray as she introduces the readers to the black box. The black box is the central symbol of the short story. It suggests both death and necessity of change due to a combination of the passage of time and population expansion. The box is old and needs to be replaced, but no one takes the job of making a new one because that would be an alteration of the way the tradition has been done for many years, and it also shows man’s resistance to change. The black box also symbolizes the need for a new tradition and the reluctance of the townspeople to accept change. The physical appearance of the box suggests that it was not only the black box that needs to be replaced but also the tradition of the lottery. The black box becomes the ultimate symbol of death, as it is the very vehicle that delivers the unfortunate winners prize, which is death by stoning.
Another aspect of symbolism in The Lottery is that the names of certain towns people representing death. The village’s most powerful man, Mr. Summers, owns the village’s largest business and is also its major. Summers’ very name suggests that he becomes a man of leisure through his wealth and also shows how the town starts off with a nice sunny day but as the reader is introduced to more characters there is more symbolism in the other characters names. Mr. Graves, the village’s second most powerful government official – its postmaster, his name may suggest the gravity of officials. Mr. Graves his name shows us how the setting of the story goes from sunny day that leads on to the death of a town person. Mr. Adams on the other hand is one of the towns people who is one of the first to throw the stones at Mrs. Hutchinson, instead his name represents the first one who ought to save the town from the lottery, but instead he is the first to support it.
After all, in the story, the reasons for holding the Lottery are long forgotten. And the rituals connected to it, other than the making of participant lists, the use of the old black box and the swearing in, have mostly fallen by the wayside. All that really remains is a rigid adherence to an ancient tradition. The black box became the ultimate symbol of death, as it is the very vehicle that delivers the unfortunate winners prize, which is death by stoning. The momentum that came from the towns peoples extreme degree of self-interest further propels the storm of immoral and unethical actions. The terrible tradition was carried out once again. Instead of considering the effect that the tradition had on their fellow man they were grateful that the black box had blessed them with their own lives. As far as they were concerned the sky was blue and the sun was still shining.