The Lottery


Shirley Jackson

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The marked slip of paper Symbol Analysis

The marked slip of paper Symbol Icon

The slip of paper that denotes the annual victim of the lottery is marked only by a single dark dot. This mark looks like a spot, a blemish on the blank page. Spots and blemishes are frequently associated with disease, and so the appearance of the dot symbolizes the marking of a person for destruction, as if he or she were diseased and unsafe to others. The marked slip of paper also shows the pointlessness of the lottery itself. It is created by Joe Summers with pencil the night before the lottery, and it is only this mark, casually made by another human, that determines the fate of a person. The commonness of the object reminds us that the marked slip of paper holds no power in itself, other than the power that the villagers give it by adhering to the tradition of the lottery.

The marked slip of paper Quotes in The Lottery

The The Lottery quotes below all refer to the symbol of The marked slip of paper. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Juxtaposition of Peace and Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of The Lottery published in 2005.
The Lottery Quotes

Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office.

Related Symbols: The marked slip of paper
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Lottery PDF

The marked slip of paper Symbol Timeline in The Lottery

The timeline below shows where the symbol The marked slip of paper appears in The Lottery. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Lottery
Human Nature Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...and little Davy. Mr. Graves takes the slips of paper back and puts five, including the marked slip of paper , in the black box. The others he drops on the ground, where a breeze... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Tradition Theme Icon
Dystopian Society and Conformity Theme Icon
...over to his wife and forces the slip of paper from her hand. It is the marked slip of paper with the pencil dot Mr. Summers made the night before. (full context)