Symbolism in The Lottery

Shirley Jackson uses symbolism in “The Lottery” to establish tradition in the town and why the town’s people follow tradition using symbols such as the black box, 3 legged stool, stones and other objects recognized in the story. Each object represents some kind of meaning to the central theme of the story. In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” a black box is used to hold pieces of paper where names are drawn out for the lottery. The black box symbolizes the connection the villagers have to the tradition of the lottery.

In the story the box is said to be older than the oldest man living in the town and is not even the first box used for the lottery. The villagers are so connected to the black box and the tradition of the lottery that when Mr. Summers talked about making a new box, “ No one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.” The black box has been around so long that everyone is use to it and does not want a new one like the tradition of the lottery. With as much tradition the black box holds a 3 legged stool is used to support it.

During the lottery a stool is put in the middle of the square and the black box is set upon it. The stool symbolizes support of the tradition of the lottery. While all the villagers take place in the lottery as individuals they seem to not support it. “The villagers kept their distance leaving space between themselves and the stool.” The direct quote from the story shows that the villagers really do not like the tradition or in a sense fear the tradition of the lottery.

Also in the story Mr. Summers asks for help to hold the box on the stool steady and with hesitation Mr. Martin and his son hold the box steady while Mr. Summers draws papers from the box.

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Using the symbolism of the box and stool, Mr. Martin and his son are hesitant in holding on to tradition and support of the lottery. In the story the winner of the lottery is literally stoned to death …