Today the western world prides itself in being a fair and just society, but are we really that much different from the primitive and barbaric customs from the townspeople in “The Lottery”? This is the point that the author, Shirley Jackson, is trying to make in her short story “The Lottery”. “The Lottery” examines society’s changing traditions, or lack thereof. By using the literary techniques of symbolization, setting and characterization Shirley Jackson develops the theme of new versus old. .
“The Lottery” is told in chronological order, starting with the townspeople gathering in the town square and ending with the winner of the lottery’s prize. The story is told in third person. The story’s narrator tells the story from an objective third person point of view, so the narrator does not tell the reader of the characters thoughts or emotion leaving the reader free to interpret them as he or she wishes. The third person point of view allows the story to be retold or reproduced, which makes the story in the past tense. Although, there is no actual discourse within the story, there is however, a level of discourse between the reader and the characters in the story. Because the “civilized” person would never engage in such barbaric and antiquated practices such as the lottery, there becomes a level of discourse. There is also situational irony found in the story because the reader is led to believe that the lottery will be something good but at the end of the story one finds out that the “prize” in the lottery is really a deadly ritual and results in someone being stoned to death. .
The setting plays an important role in “The Lottery” and adds to the situational irony of the story. “The Lottery” begins with a description of the setting. It states, “The morning of June twenty-seventh was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day [ ]” (271). This leads the reader to believe that the tone of the story is light and warm.