The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a short story in which the setting sets up the reader to think of a positive outcome. However, this description of the setting foreshadows exactly the opposite of what is to come.
Shirley Jackson gives the reader a sense of comfort and stabily from the very beginning. It begins, clear and sunny with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green (118). The setting throughout The Lottery creates a sense of peacefulness while portraying a typical town on a normal summer day.
Shirley Jackson begins the story on an early summer morning of June 27 (118). She also mentions that school was recently over for the summer (118), which of allows the children into boisterous play (118) to run around at that time of day. This provides the positive outlook and lets the reader relax into what seems to be a comfortable setting for the story. Everyone is coming together for what seems to be enjoyable, festive, even celebratory occasion. The sound of the children in the background gathering stones selecting the smoothest and roundest stones (118) to pile around the square for The Lottery. The women and men of the town gather around as well, they greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands (118). Waiting for the lottery to begin.
The Lottery takes place at the town square, every year as were the square dances, the teen-age club, the Halloween program (118) oddly there is no mention of any other holidays celebrated.
The black box acts as the major turning point for the setting. The introduction of the black box into the setting changes the mood and the atmosphere of the townspeople as they become uneasy around it the villagers kept their distance from it (118). It is not until the takes place that we learn of the townspeople possess. Through her use if subtle details in the setting, Shirley Jackson foreshadows the emotional ending, by the incoherent mentioning of stones. We find out that Tessie is declared the winner of The Lottery. She turns on the very people that she loves and says to them It isnt fair (123). One of the women casually tells the victim to be a good sport (121) as they stone her to death.
The setting has set us up for a shocking and deadly end. What seemed like a wonderful, Joy-filled day ended with an unfortunate tragic death.
Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan,
Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2007. 118-123