Forshadowing in the Lottery

January 5, 2017 General Studies

In The Lottery Shirley Jackson uses subtle foreshadowing to hint at the shocking ending without giving the reader a clear idea of what is going to occur. Throughout the story the reader is made to feel increasingly uncomfortable by bring the events to a head.

At the beginning of the story a pretty picture is painted of a nice summer day. The reader is first aware of the Lottery by saying that other towns have to start a day early due to larger populations. However, in this town she writes that the lottery takes only two hours and that the town’s people can be home by lunch. This is the first clue that something about the lottery is amiss. If the lottery were something that the villagers looked forward to being home or the time wouldn’t be an issue. Shirley Jackson then takes about the children. She says that school has let out but instead of the excitement of the summer “the feeling of liberty sat uneasily with most of them”. This shows that some of the children understand that they are not truly free until some event occurs. It’s very subtle because she does not come out and say why the children are uneasy and not free to romp casually. The boys are also gathering stones. A great emphasis is put on this describing the stones and also that they guard their piles against the other boys. The girls are groups together looking over their shoulder or in some cases holding the hands of holder brothers and sisters. If this was a casual setting the children would not feel the need to have the comfort of physical contact of their siblings. The author is subtly point at the uneasiness of the children without making a big deal of it. .

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The adults and how they behave when they gather is the next step. She states that the men gather away from the stones. In a usual description this would not need to be brought up. Since she specifically states this we suspect that the stones hold a bigger function than just boys playing around.


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