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Foreshadowing in The Lottery

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a short story about a town that practices an old fashioned tradition of stoning someone to death for the belief that it brings prosperity to the town. A lottery is done so that the person to be stoned to death would be picked at random. But despite the randomness and the late climax of the short story, Jackson was able to put bits and pieces of foreshadowing elements that would give the readers an idea of what the short story is really about. Stone’s Throw The very first hint of foreshadowing in the short story can be found at the second paragraph.

“Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest of stones” (Jackson). True to the definition of foreshadowing, the readers are not yet familiar, or do not have an idea what those stones actually mean. Ironically enough, the foreshadowing elements in a story is usually and easily identified right after the climax of the story. The statement suggests that the town is waiting rather eagerly for the lottery to come.

Even the children are excited about it and show much enthusiasm. This may look like a playful scene but it just shows that the whole town, including the children are so used to the lottery that they treat it like any other occasion. At this point, readers have no idea what those stones are for. The stones foreshadow its darker purpose, that it is going to be used in a sinister tradition of stoning someone to death, and not merely a throwing toy for children to play with. A Man Apart Somewhat related to the stones, foreshadowing is also present in following paragraphs.

“They [the men] stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corer, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed. ” (Jackson). The men were standing far away from the pile of stones that are to be used after the lottery. It foreshadows the sickening tradition that the town is practicing because the men does not want to be physically close to the “stones of death. ” They probably feel disgusted by it so they distance themselves from it. Their disgust can also be seen in their expressions—because, as stated, the men were smiling rather than laughing with their jokes.

A normal person who does not have anything bothering him or her would laugh wholeheartedly at jokes, but these men, because of their disgust in the tradition, only smiles. Late Comers Die Jackson could not have given away the fate of Mrs. Hutchinson any better. By arriving late, Mrs. Hutchinson foreshadows her own doom. “Just as Mr. Summers finally left off talking and turned to the assembled villagers, Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square” (Jackson). And to further emphasize the unfortunate fate of Mrs. Hutchinson, she literally said goodbye to Mrs. Delacroix.

Even though she does not really know, like everybody else, that she would be picked, her “farewell tap” to Mrs. Delacroix foreshadows her impending death. Conclusion Foreshadowing enables us to appreciate the story more after reading it, especially on second and succeeding readings. Jackson is not shy of using foreshadowing in her story. It is evident throughout her work. Her use of foreshadowing only added to the already hefty literary significance of The Lottery. Works Cited Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery” Classic Short Stories. 31 March 2009 < http://www. classicshorts. com/stories/lotry. html>

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