The idea of society is conditioned to violence is established immediately in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” To represent the concepts of violence and murder, stones are used and mentioned numerous times throughout the story. By using stones as the symbol of violence in “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson represents the subject matter as a persistent social phenomenon, the instances of which are multiple and difficult to overcome.
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The presence of stones in some shape or form is ubiquitous in the novel. However, stones are typically associated with “The Lottery” as a murder weapon, which the tragic denouement reveals (Schaub 80). Stones are revealed at the very end of the short story as the weapon that would eventually be used to kill the victim. However, their presence is palpable throughout the novel, with Bobby Martin and the rest of the boys collecting them on their way home (Jackson).
Therefore, stones are utilized to symbolize both the murder and the twisted justification for it that the crowd has created. Both become evident as the novel reaches its tragic end, yet both are also heavily foreshadowed since the beginning, as the process of collecting stones is depicted as causal. Thus, stones incorporate the ideas of murder and its justification with the help of the description of stoning as one of the methods of murder notoriously known since the beginning of time.
The use of stones as the symbol of violence in “The Lottery” allows envisioning the subject matter as a pervasive and unceasing concept that takes multiple shapes and forms. As a result, the dark message of the novel is reinforced with the choice of symbolism. While the novel does not contain descriptions of graphic violence, it leaves a visible mark on its readers.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Fullreads.com, n.d., Web.
Schaub, Danielle. “Shirley Jackson’s Use of Symbols in ‘The Lottery’.” Journal of the Short Story in English, vol. 14, 1990, pp. 79-86.