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Excitement, hope, and thrill are typical emotions that most everyone experience when considering a lottery. A lottery is a process or thing whose success or outcome is governed by chance, it is through this concept of chance that individuals are provoked with feelings of intense exhilaration. While these reactions are typically sound, it is not present within the short story titled The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Contrasting our typical and modern reactions to the concept of a lottery, the lottery present within the story is not one that provokes feelings of delight, but feelings of fear and anguish for one particular resident. When considering Jackson’s tone within the story, the dialogue, and the scene, we are presented with a chilling overall message about tradition, conformity, and acceptance. A specifically chilling aspect of the short story is the setting and its pastoral imagery. As soon as we begin to read, we are given the ability to understand that this story begins on a summer’s morning, in June. The flowers were “blossoming profusely” and the grass was “richly green,” implying a strong sense of harmony, overall pleasantness, and rural nature. We are also given the ability to understand that within this small village, of only about three hundred people, a specific lottery is about to take place, however, this lottery is not specific to this small village, but seems to take place everywhere, causing for different time organizations within other areas. It is through this knowledge, that we are able to understand that whatever Jackson may be critiquing is not something unique to one specific area, but is a societal issue. Here, we are presented with the theme of tradition, in a regional sense. This lottery is entirely familiar to everyone and no one feels the need to let it go and be something of the past. Within this traditional American setting, we are presented with imagery and dialogue that should be completely familiar to the reader. It is through this overall traditional tone that we are given a feeling of comfort and contentment. In the setting that Jackson presents to us, we are not meant to be shocked by anything in particular, which only sets us up for complete shock at the end of the story when an individual is stoned to death when she “wins” the lottery. It goes without question that the story’s overall theme focuses on conformity and tradition, and this is entirely present within the existence of the infamous black box. The villagers within this story were very familiar with the lottery and did not feel that breaking the tradition of this lottery was necessary. The black box within the short story is a representation of the villagers’ strong connection and grasp onto the tradition of the lottery. The lottery was something that the villagers would present when mentioning fun community activities, such as parties and dances. It was presented with an easy-going, possibly fun, and interesting activity that the reader would not question. The mentioning of the black box allowed us to understand that its purpose was one that was unique to this specific lottery, as it was described as old. When considering the past actions of the villagers and their old thoughts, we are also given the ability to understand that they are not entirely ready to let it go and get a new one. Understanding this would allow us to believe that the villagers are passionate about traditions, and do not feel the need to let anything go. When considering the actions of these villagers, we are also driven to believe that they almost worship this box, leaving a bit of space between themselves and the old box. It is through this space that we are forced to understand that they do not wish to hinder old traditions and to make sure that they are not affecting it in any way, just like the lottery itself. When considering the black box, we must understand that it is a physical representation of the lottery as the individuals within this village do not feel the need to or want to move on or let it go, they have decided to keep it a seemingly annual tradition. The concept of tradition is one that most of this small village seem to understand and follow, which is why the lottery seems to be quite important. While the lottery is of great significance to everyone else within this village, Mrs. Tess Hutchinson seems to stick out greatly, specifically because she was late to the lottery. While the village seems to take her tardiness rather lightly, many individuals seem to discuss both her presence and her tardiness. Hutchinson’s late arrival allows her to be entirely pushed out of the group, practically immediately, simply because she does not feel that the rules of the lottery are as important as everyone believes they are to be. As stated previously, the lottery represents tradition and conformity within society, therefore, Hutchinson’s sticking out of the group is something that is not and will not be accepted within society overall, or within this case, the lottery. While Hutchinson may not care for the rules within this lottery, she is extremely eager to join in, simply so she is not picked. Here, the story takes a sharp turn as we are presented with the face that no one really wants to be picked, unlike a traditional lottery. Hutchinson immediately throws away her morals and begins to offer her daughter and son-in-law to be murdered instead of herself. While Hutchinson’s differences separated her from the group, her thirst for conforming and being one within the group when faced with the possibility of death is a concept that speaks to society and its standards. Those who do not fit in are excluded entirely, without any choice. Jackson’s short story titled The Lottery is one that focuses on society’s overwhelming pressure on individuals to conform and focus on tradition. When considering the setting, tone, symbolism, and imagery within this story, we are forced to understand Jackson’s societal message, which is essentially to conform or die.

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