Selective Exposition in The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

1003 WordsJul 15, 20185 Pages
Usually when someone hears the word “lottery” the first thing that comes to mind is a large sum of cash that people compete against highly impractical odds to win. Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery might imply a similar conception based on the title alone, but the story is filled with unknowns never revealing exactly when and where the story takes place, or why the lottery exists; even what the lottery is isn’t revealed until the very end. Yet despite Jackson’s omission of details in The Lottery, she manages to create an overtone of mystery that compels the reader to grasp the world of the story rather than define it in terms of the physical world and form their own opinions. Often in stories, setting is a key element, and that the more…show more content…
Minimalism, being the virtual heart of his style, Carver’s stories sometime seem like they lack motivation. Charles May writes that Carver’s story Gazebo is specifically about how pointless explanation actually is (42). Jackson’s story mimics Carver’s style a great deal, as very little is revealed throughout the story, but for a good reason. If Jackson did explain everything about the world of The Lottery, the reader would be too ensconced with reality while reading the story. May writes that critic Walter Benjamin surmised that “What story does is to show us how to deal with all that we cannot understand; it is half the art of storytelling to be free from information. Because the reader of the story is permitted to interpret things, story has an amplitude lacking in information” (41). Jackson’s story is not meant to take place in a world that the reader can live in, just one that the reader can believe is possible, and because the world is shrouded in mystery rather than exposition, the reader is free to form their own opinions. A shocking tale of murder in a virtually civilized town, The Lottery remains mysterious to the end. The reader is blissfully unaware of a majority of details, causing the revelation of what the lottery is to be all the more shocking. By using this selective exposition, Jackson effectively creates a mystery in which the reader is free to

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