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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Short Story Analysis: The Lottery

by Shirley Jackson

It had been the yearly tradition of this village to have a lottery; families whose respective members would gather to draw a piece of paper each from a box, and the one who would get the paper with a dot in it was the winner .

Mr. Summers had always been the one in charge of this lottery.

After several slips of paper had been drawn, it was Tessie Hutchinson who got the “winning” paper, and the prize as usual was throwing of stones at her by the people.

A. CHARACTERS – all of the characters in this short story could be considered as antagonists

1.   Mr. Summers - a round-faced, jovial man who ran the coal business
2.   Mr. Graves – the postmaster
3.   Tessie Hutchinson – the one who won in the lottery
4.   Bobby Martin – a grocer in that village

1. Harry Jones
2.   Dickie Delacroix
3.   Mrs. Adams
4.   Mrs. Dunbar
5.   The rest of the people in that village

B. PLOT – the entire plot is Linear

a)  Introduction

It was June 27, at around 10 am, and the village people started to crowd in the square, between the post office and the bank, for their traditional lottery.

b)  Rising Action

Mr. Summers finally announced that the lottery would start. He had with him the list of the names of the families and their respective members.

c)  Climax

The village people used to have a or black box, but the lost it, so they only prepared stones to be used once the lottery winner was declared. Tessie Hutchinson was the winner, and the people, including the children started to throw those stones at her, to her death, as her prize.

d)  Falling action

Poor Mrs. Hutchinson was crying that it was not fair, it was not right.

e)  Denouement

The lottery winner could not do anything about it since it was their village's tradition.


a)  place -  in the square, between the post office and the bank,

     b)  time -  June 27 at 10 am
c)  weather conditions – clear and sunny

d)  social conditions – normal village people (but with a strange tradition)

e)  mood or atmosphere – the start of the story sounds normal, but towards the end, the shocking revelation of a strange ritual is unfolded


The point of view of this short story is Omniscient Limited,  the author tells the story in third person (using pronouns they, she, he, it, etc).  We know only what the character knows and what the author allows him/her to tell us. We can see the thoughts and feelings of characters if the author chooses to reveal them to us.


For me, the author used IRONY in this short story. At the beginning, when I was starting to read it, I really thought that the lottery here was just like any usual one, but later on, especially after reading it again, I figured out the shocking, ironic portrayal of this lottery that they have in this particular village. SYMBOL is also used, like the black box where the slips of paper were placed. For people a long time ago, the color black meant something negative.


  Things are not always as they appear to be and Some people are afraid of change.
 The conflict here is External, and  Man vs. Circumstances (classical) - The leading characters (especially the winner) struggle against fate, or the circumstances of life facing them.   Man vs. Society (social) - The leading characters struggle against ideas, practices, or old customs.                                                                                         As Featured On EzineArticles                   -- ARVillanueva

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