The Lottery Symbolism

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Tradition is highly valued by people throughout the world. In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” it is tradition to sacrifice a person once a year for good harvest. The villagers gather around Mr. Summers, who has a black box sitting on a stool, to see who will choose a folded piece of paper with a dot on it. Whichever family has the dot will have to draw again, and the family member who draws it next is stoned. The three-legged stool, black box, and stones used in the story all show a great deal of symbolism. The three-legged stool used to support the black box holds a few important meanings. One symbol of the stool is the tradition of the lottery. Every summer the stool is used to support the worn out black box. The stool “was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it” (228). Even though the villagers are aware of the stool, they do not feel inclined to move closer to it. The “villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool”(228). Keeping space between the stool gives the people a feeling of safety and security. The villagers hold fear towards the tradition of the lottery. The stool also represents death because the box that is set on it holds the piece of paper with the dot on it that determines one person’s life. Even though the villagers hold the strong fear towards the stool and box, they are keeping a tradition that no one enjoys. Due to them being used to the event, they do not feel entitled to

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