Short stories

Hints of Evil: How Shirley Jackson Foreshadows the True Meaning of “The Lottery”

Nearly everyone who reads Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery cannot even begin to fathom the true meaning of the lottery until it has already happened. The shock that we experience at the end on learning that the lottery’s winner becomes a sacrificial lamb to fulfill a tradition that has long lost its meaning catches us off guard.

And I think this is partly the reason this short story is still a success among Jackson’s readers; unknown to the reader, she builds on suspense that we only come to realize in the end. The hints that Jackson provides throughout the story only become evident after the first read. It is then that we go back to the story from the beginning and start seeing these instances of foreshadowing in bolder colors.

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