The Lottery Essay, Research Paper
Symbolism and irony are extremely present in The Lottery. This story represents the importance of social standards and classes in a society. Although the story takes place in what appears to be the 1950 s time period, the prevalence of social status is still an important part of society today. In our time, who you know or how much money you are worth can most certainly get you out of many delicate, life altering situations. This is neither an ethical or morally correct approach; but then again we do not live in an ideal world.
The lottery is run by the most respected and wealthy man in the town, Mr. Summers. Mr. Summers is the owner of the most successful business in town, a very profitable coal mill. Mr. Summers tries his hardest to appear like a common man when he arrives at the lottery. His attire is that of a pair of blue jeans topped with a white shirt. He is the source behind keeping the lottery going. Due to his social position, he has the power to continue the lottery or to make it cease. The symbolism behind his involvement pertains to his status. He enjoys the fact that he holds the power over his town. The people respect him because he holds a morbid part of their culture and fate in his hands. He symbolizes the negative aspects of power and prosperity.
Mr. Summers, of course, thrives off of his power; this is the reason that the lottery is still going. Mr. Summers coordinates dances, parties, and even activities for the town s children to partake in. He does everything in his power to make the lottery appear to be an enjoyable festival for everyone.
The two men who are assistants in the lottery also happen to be two more of the more financially secure, upstanding men of the town. Mr. Graves, the postmaster, swears in Mr. Summers every year to be the emcee of the morbid, community event. He also assists in making the fate altering ballots.
The next man in the line of progression would be Mr. Martin, the owner of the town s one and only grocery store. Mr. Martin gets the honor of holding the black box, while the ballots are being stirred.
The lottery is a complete representation of power. The lottery itself takes place in between the bank and the post office; both places represent power of some genre. The most likely candidates to win the lottery are those holding the lowest social ranking in town.
Another important factor is how dominant the male head of the household is in the society. There are two families that Mr. Summers wants to make certain are represented at the festivities. One of which would be the Dunbar family. Mr. Dunbar is not able to come to the lottery due to a broken leg, his son Horace is not a provider for the family therefore, Mrs. Dunbar is then appointed to pull a ballot. Mr. Summers also makes certain that the Watson family is present. Jack Watson s father is deceased, this entitles Jack to be the head of the household, and in turn, another ballot chooser.
Women have very little, if any status in the town s society. They are strictly known as Mrs. so and so. The housewives arrive to the lottery after their children and husbands, and of course after their housework is completed.
Tessie Hutchinson is a fitting example of this. She arrives to the lottery late because she claimed to have forgotten about it while she was busying herself with housework. Upon her arrival, she stops to talk to a few other wives and then directly leads herself to her rightful position by her husband. Unfortunately, Tessie should not have taken the lottery quite so lightly. The tension is now growing throughout the crowd. Everyone is anxiously awaiting Mr. Summers to announce the name that is drawn. Quiet, nervous, laughter is circling the crowd, after all lottery in June, corn be heavy soon , this is a tradition for the town s prosperity. The name is drawn. Mr. Summers announces that it is Hutchinson.
Upon hearing this, Tessie abruptly instructs her husband to go up first. The family s names are narrowed down until Tessie is drawn as the winner. Obviously very reluctant to receive her prize, she quickly inquires why her daughter Eva is not made to partake with the rest of the family. Tessie s question is answered by the fact that Eva is now married and currently belongs to another man, not the Hutchinson family.
It isn t fair… is the last cry that we hear uttered from Tessie s lips. She will now be forever silenced by her fate as being the unlucky winner of an archaic tradition, she can look on the bright side though, her death will bring a great corn crop.
In the end, we see Mr. Summers as the symbol of power as corruption, the lottery itself as a symbol of morbid folklore, and Tessie as the symbol of the punished, questioning female.