The Lottery Essay Example


Jackson uses mood to portray how people’s true colors come out when least expected. Through the story, the characters become less and less civilized by the minute. It’s like when you get picked to be in that one group you didn’t want to be in and your mood gets messed up and you’re like, “Why me?!. ”The lottery was an annual tradition that the civilians entered, including kids as well. The winner of the lottery would get stoned to death, this was “normal” to the townspeople. In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, Jackson shows that even though society appears civilized, it is barbaric though the mood changes in the story.

At the beginning of the story, before the lottery begins, the townspeople appear to be happy and calm which makes them seem civilized. The beautiful scenery sets a peaceful mood at the beginning of the story. It was “The morning of June 27th...clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely,”(paragraph 1.) The setting shows the calmness and civilization in the town. It makes it seem as if it’s a quiet place where all the townspeople have eventful gatherings. The lottery tradition was a fun event for the townspeople. 

“The lottery was conducted — as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program — by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities,”(paragraph 3.) There were many things the townspeople could do as an activity and plenty of entertainment around. It was well thought out so that they could enjoy their time at this yearly event. The lottery event was short yet fun and respected the townspeople’s schedules. It “took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner,” (Paragraph 1.) With all the available things to do, the lottery conductors made sure it didn’t take too long. They made sure the townspeople would have time to go on with their day and go home to eat. This town was a joyful town where everyone appeared to be civilized.             

In the middle of the story, while the lottery is being conducted, the townspeople appear to be nervous and overwhelmed which makes them appear less civilized. People's true colors begin to show as the lottery “winner” is about to be picked. After the Hutchinson family was chosen, “People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers, “You didn’t give him enough time to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair!”(Paragraph 45.) 

Tessie’s mood went from nervous to angry real quick. At this point, we can see that winning the lottery isn't a good thing. Mrs. Hutchinson never thought she would have a chance at winning the lottery which caused a drift in her mood. When the town was ready to see which member of the Hutchinson family was going to be chosen “there was a long pause, a breathless pause, until Mr. Summers, holding his slip of paper in the air, said, “All right, fellows.” For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once, saying, “Who is it?,”'' Who’s got it?,”(Paragraph 43.) The outcome of getting your name picked from the lottery was negative and no one wanted to have their name read from the slip picked, It's a silent moment where everyone is anticipated to know who’s the winner and a devastating moment for that person that's about to win. 

The townspeople will sacrifice anyone and anything as long as it's not themself. Mrs. Hutchinson even wanted to throw in Don and Eva, who were both parts of her very own family. She yelled, "Make them take their chance!" "Daughters draw with their husbands' families, Tessie,"(Paragraphs 49-50.) Mr. Summers said gently. "You know that as well as anyone else." Mrs. Hutchinson knew she had a huge chance of getting chosen so she tried to put her husband's kids in the family so that they could have an equal chance of getting picked. She didn’t realize the negative effect of the lottery until then. When Tessie’s name was drawn, she didn’t take it so lightly because they never experienced the lottery from the “winners” point of view till now. At this point in the story, the town is very frazzled which makes them seem less-civilized.

At the end of the story after the lottery is conducted, the townspeople appear to be relieved and cold-hearted which makes them seem uncivilized. The moments before the stoning are very rushed as everyone is trying to hurry up and get home. Even “Mrs. Dunbar had...stones in both hands..., gasping for breath, “I can’t run at all. You’ll have to go ahead and I’ll catch up with you,”(Paragraph 75) Many people were running so that they could stone Tessie in time. Old Man Warner was also trying to get everyone to hurry since he’s been doing this for 77 years counting. People switched up on Tessie after she was picked. People were trying to find the roundest stones and pebbles to throw at Tessie, “The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box. Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands,”(Paragraph 74.) 

Everyone but Tessie was relieved that they didn’t win and the excitement soon began as they prepared for the stoning. People’s true colors started to show as her own family and friends were collecting stones of all sizes, large and small. People can look you dead in the eye and smile but then one second later, turn their backs on you. As the townspeople prepared for the stoning "Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head,” (Paragraph 77) Tessie took the lottery for granted but joked on her, she ended up being the one getting stoned by her own family and friends, people who she thought had her back. The townspeople just wanted to get the stoning over with and go home, especially Old Man Warner since he’s immune to it. The change in mood of the townspeople from nervous to relieved shows how selfish and uncivilized they are. 

In conclusion, the mood variations throughout the story make the characters go from civilized to uncivilized. Jackson portrayed a joyful and peaceful town at the beginning of the story and a selfish town at the end of the story to portray the true character of the townspeople. The drastic change shows how people can’t let go of bad traditions and their difficulty in letting go. The townspeople are stuck and don’t know how to get out of the trap they planted on themselves. They don’t do well with change which results in negative outcomes. In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, Jackson shows that even though society appears civilized, it is barbaric though the mood changes in the story. 

 

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