The Use of Selective Exposition in The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

1315 WordsJul 17, 20186 Pages
A typical story is littered with details, explaining the history of the world the story takes place in, who the characters in the story are, all the while remaining correlated to the plot and subplots that drive the story forward. The story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson however does not follow these conditions, as the reader is left to interpret a majority of the story on their own as it progresses. Jackson is not the only writer to incorporate a style of selective exposition in their work; Raymond Carver is widely recognized for his rejection of explanation and the use of characters that do not always communicate with one another, both of which are elements which Jackson incorporates into her own story. Initially, a lack of exposition…show more content…
Accordingly the reader has had ample time to form whatever interpretations they may have about the lottery, even given the sparse information that the story provides. What is certain about the story leading up to the very end, is that everyone in the town takes place in the lottery regardless of age, that there’s been a lottery for as long as anyone can remember, that this village is not the only one that keeps this practice, and that it is a declining practice (Jackson 239). Despite whatever conceptions the reader may draw about the mystery of the lottery, the truth is so unexpected that it perfectly demonstrates how something can possess immense and startling power (May 48). The reader discovers that the lottery is actually a public stoning. The exact process is that everyone draws a piece of paper from a box, and whoever draws the paper marked with a black spot, is stoned to death. An important thing to note is that in the beginning of the story, the villagers “made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square” (Jackson 235). These stones are not mentioned until the very end, where the villagers proceed to bludgeon the unlucky winner of the lottery. This brutal image is enough to shatter any preconceived notions the reader may have formed, thus raising another mystery: what is the purpose of the lottery? Despite the many blanks that the reader is left to fill in, all of them

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