The Lottery Essay, Research Paper
The Suspense of The Lottery
The Lottery written by Shirley Jackson, is a story that conveys its message through plot and detail. Suspense in The Lottery plays a most important role making sure that the story is well developed. The author gives a lot of detail and it seems to make the story move along slowly. But, if you read carefully her foreshadowing will hint toward her unexpected ending.
As The Lottery develops it seems to move along like a turtle but without all the detail the story would be confusing. Although characters in this story don’t experience much development, they are simply named to give the story a series of steps or a sense of direction, and of course for the relation of actual events. From the beginning we are given a full description of the scenery and the feeling that everyone is happy and joyful. Everyone seems to be excited it is lottery day. Our first taste of suspense comes when the black box is introduced. Mr. Summers arrives to the square carrying the black wooden box. We automatically believe that it is of great importance because of the detail given by the author. The villagers left plenty of space between themselves and the stool where the box was to be laid(272). There was also some hesitation given by the villagers when Mr. Summers asks for help in holding the box (272). We don t have any idea of the problem it will create.
The process of the lottery itself is prolonged with suspense. We are never told exactly what it is about. The suspense in this case is built upon the details of how people prepare for this event and the special preparations that are made in order to get ready for it. For example the night before the lottery, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves made up the slips of paper and put them in the box, and it was then taken to the safe of Mr. Summers coal company and locked until Mr. Summers was ready to take it to the square the next morning (273). We are also told later that there was a lot of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers could declare the lottery open. There were lists to be made-up of heads of families, heads of household in each family, and members of each household in each family(273).
The most ironic part of the story, in my opinion, is loaded up with detail and suspense. It is when Mrs. Hutchinson arrives late to the event. There seems to be a great deal of unexplained build up to this part fo the story. The story itself seems to stop moving, and the suspense just rises. The ironic phrases are detailed by exclamations from Mrs. Hutchinson such as “clean forgot what day it was, thought my old man was out back stacking wood” and remarks by others such as “you are in time, though, they are still talking away, and “thought we were going to have to get on without you. I believe that these opinions play a very important role in the story and show that Mrs. Hutchinson will play an important role in the lottery (273-274).
The suspense then deepens when the men start going up nervously and humorously pick out their papers. (274). The lottery does not appear to be such a fun event anymore. This is when we start trying to figure out exactly what the event is all about. It is also the first time the characters show discomfort or emotions toward the event, giving a small hint that maybe something bad is about to happen. A little later we see that all the men have gone up and have gotten the little papers from the black box. By now all throughout the crowd there were men holding the small folded papers in their large hands, turning them over and over nervously(275). I believe this shows that the lottery is a serious matter, not fun and games.
The climax or most suspenseful part of the story is reached when the breathless pause ends, and all of the men open their little papers, only to find out that the Hutchinson’s got it(276). We know something terrible has just occurred because of the way Bill Hutchinson expresses his emotion, standing quiet and staring down at the paper in his hand (276). From this point on, the story is a little confusing, what we thought was terrible may not be so bad because we see how Mrs. Hutchinson suggests her daughter to take her chances as well when the next drawing for the family members comes on. We would never imagine a mom wishing something terrible upon her own daughter now could we? After that the other Hutchinson children come into the picture and we begin to think that lottery is not so bad after all, it is full of fun and excitement again. We think that children would never be involved in something evil. With this I get anxious because I want to know the end. I want to find the truth of where this long process is going to finish. By now I wish the author would hurry up and tell me what the outcome of this lottery will be.
The ending of The Lottery is accomplished with a great deal of suspense when each one of the parents and the three children take their chances. The little boy in the family was the first to open his paper and the crowd gave out a general sigh of relief, they were happy to see the boy had not won the lottery. The phrase that puts the icing on the cake is heard when the Hutchinson s twelve year old daughter unfolds her paper, and a little girl in the crowd whispers “I hope it s not Nancy”(277). We now know that the lottery wasn’t money or a great prize to be won. Instead you have to give up something worth much more than money, your life. Our ride of suspense and excitement ends with Tessie, or Mrs. Hutchinson getting the spot on the paper, but for some reason this is not news. If we had paid attention to the foreshadowing throughout the whole story, it would have told us all along. But since we were so caught up with the suspense of trying to figure out the story, we did not pay attention to those little details. Obviously to me, suspense was the key to the plot and the story.