The short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson follows a traditional plot structure, while including narrative elements like backstory and foreshadowing.

The characters in the story are the villagers who gather in the village square to participate in the lottery, creating a collective character. A few specific characters stand out in the story, such as Tessie Hutchinson, Mr Summers, and Old Man Warner. Other characters are mentioned by name, but they are mostly symbolic of the community.

The events take place in a fictional village in which a lottery is held every year. The social setting explores aspects related to living in a rural society which blindly follows tradition.

The events are described from the point of view of a third-person narrator who describes the events and has some background knowledge of the setting, but generally does not have access to the inner thoughts of the characters.

In terms of language, the story is told through a mix of narration and dialogue and makes heavy use of symbolism - especially through its depictions of the lottery and the various items and rituals associated with it.

You can read the full analysis in the following pages.

Further help

Short story analysis

For more advice about analysing short stories, you can read our general guide to short story analysis.