Irony of The Setting in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
The setting set forth by Shirley Jackson in the beginning of The Lottery
creates a mood of peacefulness and tranquillity. This setting also creates an
image in the mind of the reader, the image of a typical town on a normal summer
day. Furthermore, Shirley Jackson uses the setting in The Lottery to foreshadow
an ironic ending.
First, Shirley Jackson begins The Lottery by establishing the setting.
To begin, she tells the reader what time of day and what time of year the story
takes place. This is important to get the reader to focus on what a typical day
it is in this small town. The time of day is set in the morning and ...view middle of the document...
Also, Shirley Jackson creates a comfortable atmosphere while describing
the residents of the town. First, she describes the children gathering together
and breaking into "boisterous play"(196). Also, the children are described as
gathering rocks, which is an action of many normal children. She described the
men as gathering together and talking about "planting and rain, tractors and
taxes"(196). Finally, she describes the women of this community as "exchanging
bits of gossip"(196) which is a common stereotype of women. She creates a mood
for the reader of the town and residents of this town on a normal summer morning.
Up to this point in the story Shirley Jackson has not pointed out
anything out of the ordinary which would reflect an ironic ending. Upon further
reading of the story, Shirley Jackson gives the reader hints about the
unusualness of this town. First, she sets the time of day to be mid-morning.
This is a clue to an ironic ending since most occurrences of criminal activity
happen during the night. Second, she also points out key buildings that
surround the town square. Furthermore, she fails to describe a church or a
courthouse which are common buildings to all communities. Also, it is odd
for this town to celebrate Halloween but not for Christmas or Easter. These are
the largest holidays that "normal" people celebrate. In addition, she points
out the fact that the children are building "a great pile of stones in one
corner of the square"(196).These points should lead the reader to consider that
this town is far from normal.
The introduction of the black box is a key turning point for the setting.
The black box symbolizes an immoral act to the villagers. This is evident in
the fact that "the villagers kept their distance"(196) from the black box. The
introduction of the black box into the setting changes the mood and the
atmosphere of the residents. After the introduction of the black box the
villagers become uneasy around this symbol of evil. Furthermore, the black box
is the key that changes the mood from serene and peaceful to ominous.
Further foreshadowing by Shirley Jackson leads the reader to consider
the town as peculiar. For instance, the names of the residents foreshadow
unfavorable events to occur....