After reading “The Lottery” for the first time, you stop and ask yourself, why didn’t I see this ending coming? You really have to read the piece a second time to even begin to notice all of the small subtleties that Jackson uses as clues that lead to the grim conclusion of the story. A lottery usually brings images of some lucky person receiving a great prize. Lotteries are usually associated with a winner having a moment of extreme happiness. So when we find out at the end of the story that the winner is actually unlucky instead of lucky, it comes as quite a shock.
Jackson does give several clues to the outcome of the story though. In the beginning the lottery is described as an annual tradition that takes place on June 27th. The first indication of something being out of the ordinary is when it’s mentioned that the lottery takes place in other towns and some of the larger ones have to start one day earlier. A normal lottery doesn’t take two days to take place. So you kind of get the feeling that something out the ordinary is going to happen. Another hint to this not being a happy occasion is the line that tells the lottery begins at ten o’clock and only last two hours so the villagers can get back to their everyday work. You are given the feeling that everyone wants to get the event over with.
The next flag that goes up for the reader is when the children begin to gather in the Village Square. “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones” (Jackson, Shirley p.863) This makes you pause and ask yourself why are the boys stuffing stones in their pockets? Why are they making a pile in the middle of the Village Square?
At the least you are able to gather that the stones will play some sort of role in the outcome of the story.
Each following paragraph has clues to how the story will play out...