In the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, Jackson illustrates an average agricultural town that usually wouldn’t be given a second thought, but in this case the innocent appearance is holding a dark secret. Every year in the summer an annual tradition is held known as the lottery. The lottery is held in the small town in order to have a bountiful harvest. All the towns’ people gather and each head of the families must reach into an old black box to grab a white slip of paper. The lottery is then narrowed down to one family once all the white slips of paper are opened. The individual who is possession of a white slip of paper with a black dot has their family each reach into the box and grab a slip of paper of their own. Unfortunately the family member who has the slip of paper with the black dot is sacrificed in order to receive a good season of crops.
There is no question what so ever that Jackson inserted a manifold of symbols in order to have a more profound impact on the story’s ending. Symbolism is an object, word, or idea that has a deeper meaning than how it is put into use. It serves as an iconic representation of something more emotional. Using symbolism lets the author plant a seed in the reader’s mind in which triggers a more profound reaction once the true meaning behind the symbol are revealed. In the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson there are a manifold of symbolic references that are used. It seems as Jackson wants us to question whether or not every tradition are done with good morality. As shown through this short story, many of the townspeople have a belief that their tradition is an act that would be approved by
God since it’s been done for generations. When in reality it is actually a horrid act that seems to have no end but only an enforced ritual taught by the older generations.
The character Old Man Warner is seen a symbol of tradition and warning. He is seen constantly enforcing the tradition of the lottery when there was talk of dropping the lottery altogether or tweaking up some old ways here and there. He claimed that they would soon “all be eating stewed chicken weed and acorns” (Jackson 1868) if they were to stop the lottery. Old Man Warner had apparently taken his chances in the lottery for the “seventy seventh year.” (Jackson 1868) He is known as the wisest individual in the town as a result of never picking the white slip of paper with the feared black dot.
As portrayed by Jackson, Mr. Graves is seen as the symbol for death and superiority. He is seen as a symbol for superiority for a major reason. He works as a postmaster which gives him control of the town’s communication. It is certainly not a coincidence that Mr. Graves followed Mr. Summers “carrying a three-legged stool,” (Jackson 1865) which happened to be a major element of the tradition. Near the ending of the story, Graves seems to be an icon of the death...