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Analysis of the Lottery

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Passage analysis from The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (355 words)

The opening paragraphs of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson establish a scene of peaceful normality in a small village where the inhabitants are gathering on a summer’s morning to complete a traditional ritual. The selected passage describes the preparations for the lottery that is held every year in the square, organized by two respected men from the village. The relaxed informal mood of the opening paragraphs is maintained, however a sense of foreboding continues to grow as the reader is confronted with some unsettling questions.
Jackson creates a scene where the characters are familiar with each other and are ostensibly relaxed and peaceful people. The adjectives used to describe Mr Summers – even his name suggests a cheerful man – are “round-faced” and “jovial” and the informal, friendly tone developed through gesture and dialogue when he “waved and called “Little late today, folks” clearly convey that this is not a man to be feared. The activities with which he is associated, “the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program” characterize him as a man to be trusted, one who is interested in community affairs. The other villagers even feel sympathy for him because he has “no children and his wife (is) a scold”.
Elements of disquiet, however, are subtly introduced into this seemingly calm and casual scene. A second character is introduced, Mr Graves – again, the name is telling – who brings forth a “black box”. The connotations of evil associated with the colour black appear to be appropriate, given the way the “villagers kept their distance” from it and the stool upon which it sat. This action is compounded when “there was a hesitation” is helping Mrs Summers with his activities. The effect is one of foreboding in the reader, as these discordant elements suggest that all is not as it seems.
The slow building of tension is clearly apparent in this passage and the reader is enticed to discover its cause. The shifting mood is subtle, indicative of the insidious nature of evil that is not addressed in practices that are maintained because of tradition.

1. Using a key and highlighting, note the following elements in this analysis: * Ideas * Quotation * Literary devices * Intended effect on the reader * Transitions 2. Annotate the parts of SCASI that are present in the introduction.…...

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