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research paper - Williams 1 Alexandra Williams Yonghwa Lee...

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Williams 1 Alexandra Williams Yonghwa Lee English 367.02 November 30 th , 2007 A Peaceful Summer Day Gone Wrong—Irony of the Atmosphere in “The Lottery” Merriam-Webster defines a lottery as “a drawing of lots in which prizes are distributed to the winners among persons buying a chance.” When one thinks of a lottery, it is usually of an average person winning millions of dollars, changing their lives forever. Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” begins with a seemingly peaceful, convivial summer day. However, the tranquility is quickly broken once the winner of the lottery is revealed and given her prize. Jackson describes the small-town atmosphere in a way that cloaks the plot, illustrating the irony between the peaceful summer day and the horrific events that take place within it, however, upon close examination; Jackson subtly foreshadows the plot with the symbolism within the story. The way Jackson begins the story is one of the most important elements in this morbid tale. She describes the morning as “warm and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day.” She even makes it a point to describe how small the town is, with only three hundred people. The villagers seem very casual about the lottery, as the children gather stones and the mothers gossip, and it seems like a boring summer day in a small town. In Helen E. Nebeker’s article “ ‘The Lottery’: A Symbolic Tour de Force, ” she quotes writer Robert Heilman’s description of Jackson’s writing style as “ ‘the deadpan narrative’ which screens us from the ‘horrifying nightmare’ to come.”(Nebeker 101) However, Heilman also states that “the ‘symbolic intention’ should be evidenced earlier in the story, because, while ‘to set us
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Williams 2 immediately on the track of symbolism’ might reduce the shock, it might, on the other hand, ‘result in a more durable story.’ ”(Nebeker 101) Heilman not only overlooks that the element of surprise is one of the most important parts of the story, but that it is also the point of it. Jackson describes the setting just so, so that the reader is coaxed into a sense of comfort and then is shocked and appalled by the ending. Jackson’s use of symbolism is subtle so that only a very close, very in-depth reader could even come close to predicting the ending. In Edna Bogert’s article “Censorship and ‘The Lottery’,” she makes an excellent point that “what we had supposed to be a happy event makes the shock of the violent ending more profound.”(Bogert 46) The peaceful setting and the seemingly normal townsfolk are truly what makes the story—the impact of the ending is dependent on the quiet, ordinary beginning. The realism in the way that Jackson describes the story also contributes to the shock at the end. It could be any summer day in any small town in America—nobody would ever know. Jackson’s way of describing it could be that of a true story. After the controversial publication of the story, Jackson actually received many
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research paper - Williams 1 Alexandra Williams Yonghwa Lee...

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