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Explication of Theme in Shirley Jackson’s "the Lottery"

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In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the theme of the story is dramatically illustrated by Jackson’s unique tone. Once a year the villagers gather together in the central square for the lottery. The villagers await the arrival of Mr. Summers and the black box. Within the black box are folded slips of paper, one piece having a black dot on it. All the villagers then draw a piece of paper out of the box. Whoever gets the paper with the black dot wins. Tessie Hutchinson wins the lottery! Everyone then closes in on her and stones her to death. Tessie Hutchinson believes it is not fair because she was picked. The villagers do not know why the lottery continues to exist. All they know is that it is a tradition they are not willing to abandon. In “The Lottery,” Jackson portrays three main themes including tradition, treason, and violence.

The main theme in Jackson’s “The Lottery” is tradition. Jackson conveys tradition as the main theme thought the story. “The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions; most of them were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around.” (966). The author suggests the people of the village have been playing the lottery for several years. “The people had done is so many times... they only half listened to the directions” suggests that the people of the village have played the lottery so many times that they only half listened to the directions. Jackson also suggests that the people of the village are anxious to take part in their annual tradition. “Most... were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around.”

Another theme within this story is treason. “”It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,”“ (969). This suggests that Tessie Hutchinson has become rebellious toward the tradition she grew up with. “it isn’t right,” suggests that

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