There are many characteristics that influence a short story such as: setting, theme, atmosphere, symbolism, imagery, and tone. Often, these characteristics can completely change the meaning of the story. In The Lottery, the setting, symbolism, and theme are three of the major aspects that affect the outcome of the story.
The Lottery is set in a small town in which people stick to things that have always been. The narrator says, “the original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in the town, was born.” From this we can see that in this small town atmosphere people hold to the lottery every year, because it is something that even the oldest man in town remembers doing as a child.
Symbolism also affects the story. The “black box” that is used in the lottery is referred to several times throughout the story, and one could easily derive that the black color of the box is symbolic of death. Especially after reading the story and seeing that the box contained the future of a person’s life. If the person approached the box and drew a piece of paper with a dot on it, they were to be stoned to death by the rest of the town. On the other hand, if he or she drew a blank piece of paper then they were sparred their life for another year.
Theme of a story projects different mental pictures, or thoughts, to the audience . The entire reasoning behind the lottery is population control. It is funny that their population needed to be controlled due to the fact that there were “only about three hundred people in the town.” The author also tells the reader that the lottery has been done since before even the oldest man in town was born. With this in mind, the reasoning behind the lottery could also be argued as it being a tradition, which everyone had accepted as the norm.