Use of Symbols in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery Essay

Submitted By lilyounggun8
Words: 488
Pages: 2

In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson symbols play a huge role in the development of the story. One major symbol in the story is the little black box that is used to store the slips of paper from the families. This black box represents both tradition and lack in logic of blindly following a tradition. Jackson uses the box to show that following a tradition, but not questioning its methods can prove to be detrimental to society as a whole. The black box in “The Lottery” can represent a tradition that becomes worn down over time. In the story, Jackson writes that the box is worn down and the black paint is chipping off of the sides. Even after all of this wear and tear, the townspeople refused to replace the box. The only reason the townspeople keep the box is because of stories told. One story is that the box is made of pieces from another black box used in previous lotteries. The box is also such a major part of the community’s culture that it comes with its own rhyme, “Lottery in June, corn is heavy soon.” All of these factors lead the black box to be a strong symbol of tradition. The black box also represents the foolishness of the townspeople. The black box becomes worn down, but the people refuse to replace it. When people find that using wood chips is out of date they begin to use paper instead. The townspeople found no need to replace the box, but they replaced the wood chips. There is no reason why the townspeople should honor the box more than any other historical objects, just as there is no reason for the townspeople to continue holding the lottery at all. The box can also represent the fear society has to deviate from time honored