You know that feeling of dread when you hear someone say, “It’s time for the lottery”? That haunting sensation of what could happen next is what makes “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson a classic. But have you ever stopped to think about the characters and their symbolism in the story? Specifically, what about Mr. Graves?
Mr. Graves is a name that would make anyone a little uneasy. Yet, he is one of the most important characters in the story, symbolizing death itself. Think about it: his name literally means “graves” which is where people are buried when they die. He is the man who helps run the lottery and even assists in stoning the person who is chosen. But, there’s more to his symbolism than just death.
In many cultures, the Grim Reaper is seen as a spirit or entity that oversees death. Similarly, Mr. Graves is the one who oversees the Lottery, a ritual that ultimately leads to someone’s death. However, like any other character in this story, Mr. Graves’ true nature is left to reader interpretation. Whether he is a willing participant in the gruesome event or a man simply following orders, he adds an extra layer of eeriness that makes “The Lottery” a chilling tale that’s hard to forget.
The Symbolism of Mr. Graves in “The Lottery”
Mr. Graves is a significant character in the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, symbolizing both death and tradition throughout the narrative.
- Death – As the name suggests, Mr. Graves represents death and the inevitable end of life. His name and role as the assistant to the lottery official emphasize this symbolism. Throughout the story, Mr. Graves is often seen handling the black box that contains the slips of paper with the marked dot indicating which villager will be stoned to death. Additionally, he is the only one responsible for maintaining the ritual’s tradition at the lottery’s end, ensuring that the stones are delivered correctly to the winner. His character serves to highlight the theme of death and its unescapable presence in life.
- Tradition – Mr. Graves characterizes the importance of tradition in the story. As the assistant to the lottery official, he’s the one ensuring the tradition goes uninterrupted every year, regardless of its origins and the danger it poses. He symbolizes the perpetuation of tradition and the willingness to follow its practices without questioning them, regardless of how inhumane or immoral they are.
The character of Mr. Graves is integral in highlighting the themes of both death and tradition in “The Lottery.” By emphasizing the unbreakable bond between the two, he illustrates the darkness present in the human psyche when a comfortable acceptance of appalling practices takes hold.
|Death||Mr. Graves represents death and the inevitability of it in the story.|
|Tradition||He symbolizes the importance of following tradition, obediently perpetuating it every year.|
Mr. Graves’ Historical Context
Understanding the historical context surrounding Mr. Graves and the world of “The Lottery” is essential to grasping the significance of his role in the story. Here are some important points to consider:
- Mr. Graves can be seen as a symbol of authority figures in small-town America during the mid-20th century.
- The story was published in 1948, just a few years after the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.
- During this time, conformity and groupthink were highly valued in American society, especially in rural areas.
These factors help explain why Mr. Graves is so willing to take part in the brutal ritual of the lottery, and why the townspeople follow his lead without question.
But there is also another layer of historical context that adds to the significance of Mr. Graves’ character. In many ways, he represents the legacy of colonialism and its continued influence on American society. The table below highlights some key connections:
|Colonialism in America||The Lottery|
|Colonial authorities often used violence and oppression to maintain control over colonized people.||The lottery is a violent and oppressive ritual that the townspeople continue to participate in without question.|
|Colonialism led to a culture of conformity and groupthink in both colonized and colonizing societies.||The townspeople’s willingness to participate in the lottery without asking questions reflects a similar culture of conformity.|
|Colonialism led to a long-lasting legacy of inequality and exploitation in America.||The lottery can be seen as a symbol of this legacy, as it perpetuates a system of violence and oppression.|
Overall, Mr. Graves is a complex character whose significance in “The Lottery” goes beyond his role as a mere functionary. Instead, he embodies a range of historical and cultural forces that continue to shape American society today.
Mr. Graves as an Enforcer of Tradition
In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Mr. Graves is the town’s postmaster and one of the key figures responsible for carrying out the lottery. He plays a significant role in emphasizing the importance of tradition in the story and is a symbol of the entrenched power structures that enable the continuation of harmful customs.
How Mr. Graves Represents the Power of Tradition
- Mr. Graves is one of the last to arrive at the lottery, indicating his importance and status within the community.
- He carries the box used for the lottery, which is a symbol of the tradition itself and the power it holds over the people.
- When Tessie Hutchinson protests the results of the lottery, Mr. Graves reminds her that “all of us took the same chance.” This statement underscores the idea that the community’s adherence to the tradition is seen as a matter of chance, rather than an intentional choice.
The Role of Mr. Graves in the Continuation of Harmful Customs
Mr. Graves is also a representation of how the power structures in society can allow for harmful customs to continue without question. He is a leader in the community and therefore has a responsibility to ensure that the welfare of its members is maintained, but he instead upholds the lottery tradition.
The following table highlights how Mr. Graves contributes to the continuation of the harmful lottery tradition:
|Actions of Mr. Graves in “The Lottery”||Effect on Perpetuating the Custom|
|Participates in selecting names for the lottery and informs the townspeople of their results||Reinforces the idea that the lottery is a legitimate and necessary practice|
|Carries the box used for the lottery||Symbolizes the importance and power of the tradition|
|Does not question the fairness or morality of the lottery||Allows for the continuation of a harmful custom without any resistance or criticism|
Mr. Graves’ actions ultimately contribute to the continuation of the lottery, which has violent consequences for the townspeople and challenges the idea that tradition should be blindly followed without questioning its underlying meaning or purpose.
The Name “Graves” and Its Significance
The name “Graves” in “The Lottery” symbolizes death and foreshadows the upcoming events. Mr. Graves, the postmaster, plays a crucial role in the story, as he is responsible for assisting Mr. Summers in the drawing of the names. Below are the explanations of the significance of the name “Graves”.
- Firstly, the name “Graves” indicates the morbid nature of the lottery. Mr. Graves’ name suggests death and burial, and it is ironic that he is responsible for the drawing of the lottery that results in someone’s death.
- Secondly, the name “Graves” foreshadows the end of the story when Tessie Hutchinson gets stoned to death. The name is a subtle clue to the readers that someone will die at the end of the story.
- Lastly, the name “Graves” represents the death of tradition and the birth of a new one. The lottery represents an age-old tradition that is blindly followed by the people of the town, but by the end of the story, the tradition starts to crumble. Mr. Graves represents the old tradition and the soon-to-be-forgotten sacrificial system.
Mr. Graves as the Assist in the Lottery Drawing
As the postmaster, Mr. Graves plays a supporting role in the lottery drawing, assisting Mr. Summers with the event. He represents every member of the society that “goes with the flow” or simply follows the herd. It is clear that Mr. Graves is not personally invested in the lottery, but he plays his role dutifully, without any signs of guilt or remorse. His apathetic behavior supports the theme of blindly following tradition without questioning its validity.
The Number 4 and Mr. Graves’ Role in the Story
The number 4 plays an important role in the story as it represents balance and stability. Mr. Graves’ presence helps maintain balance and order during the lottery ceremony, ensuring that everything goes smoothly. Additionally, the four members in the family, including Mr. Graves, represent the family unit and the importance of following tradition within a family structure.
|Mr. Graves||Assisting in the lottery drawing|
|Mr. Summers||Conducting the lottery drawing|
|Tessie Hutchinson||Chosen as the sacrificial victim in the story|
|Mr. Martin||Owner of the grocery store and participant in the lottery|
In conclusion, Mr. Graves represents the old traditions that are blindly followed without any question. His name symbolizes death and foreshadows the upcoming events in the story. Additionally, the number 4 represents stability and balance, which is crucial to maintaining the order during the lottery ceremony. Together, these symbolic elements strengthen the theme of blindly following tradition within the story.
The Irony of Mr. Graves’ Role in the Lottery
Mr. Graves is a prominent figure in the story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. He is the assistant to the lottery’s conductor, Mr. Summers, and performs many tasks related to the lottery. Mr. Graves’ portrayal in the story is highly symbolic and ironic. In this article, we will explore the various ways in which Mr. Graves symbolizes irony in the story of “The Lottery”.
The Unassuming Villager
Mr. Graves is first introduced in the story as a simple villager who helps the lottery’s organizer, Mr. Summers. He is described as a “dispenser of stones” and is seen carrying a wooden box. Mr. Graves’ unassuming character is ironic because his role in the lottery is crucial in deciding the fate of someone in the village.
The Importance of the Box
- The box symbolizes tradition and history, yet Mr. Graves carries it as if it were an everyday object.
- The box is old and worn out, symbolizing the lottery’s age and importance in the village.
- Mr. Graves carries the box with ease, representing how easily the villagers have accepted the idea of the lottery and its consequences.
The Harsh Reality of Mr. Graves’ Role
Despite being a simple villager, Mr. Graves’ role is critical in determining the fate of the lottery’s “winner”. He is the one who supervises the drawing of the slips of paper and ensures that the “winner” is appointed correctly. Mr. Graves’ role is ironic because he has a hand in the death of a fellow villager but is not held accountable.
|The Stones||The stones are symbolic of the village’s violent side and represent the villagers’ eagerness to participate in the lottery.|
|The Black Box||The black box represents the tradition and continuity of the lottery in the village and the irrelevance of change.|
In conclusion, Mr. Graves’ role in “The Lottery” is a symbol of irony. He is a simple villager who performs a crucial task in the lottery but is unassuming and unaccountable for his actions. Mr. Graves’ character and the objects he carries, such as the box and stones, are all symbolic of the harsh reality of the lottery and the villagers’ acceptance of it.
Mr. Graves as a Representation of Power
In “The Lottery,” the character of Mr. Graves symbolizes the power and authority held by the town’s leaders. Mr. Graves is the assistant to the town’s chief official, Mr. Summers, who oversees the lottery. In this role, Mr. Graves is responsible for managing the logistics of the event, including tallying the ballots and assisting with the stoning. Below are the ways in which Mr. Graves represents power in the story:
- Mr. Graves is a respected member of the town’s leadership, and therefore wields significant influence over the other residents.
- By managing the details of the lottery, Mr. Graves controls the outcome of the event and ensures that it conforms to the town’s traditions and rituals.
- Mr. Graves is responsible for keeping the town’s records, which allows him to maintain a high level of knowledge about the history and customs of the community.
Perhaps the most striking example of Mr. Graves’ power occurs during the stoning scene, when he is responsible for distributing the stones to the town’s residents. This act represents a transfer of power from the town’s leaders to its citizens, who then use that power to carry out the ritual killing. By controlling the distribution of the stones, Mr. Graves emphasizes his own authority while also demonstrating the willingness of the town’s leaders to hand over power to the people.
|Mr. Graves’ Role||As the assistant to the town’s chief official, Mr. Graves manages the logistics of the lottery and wields significant influence over the community.|
|Stone Distribution||During the stoning scene, Mr. Graves hands out the stones to the town’s residents, symbolizing a transfer of power from the town’s leaders to its citizens.|
|Records||Mr. Graves is responsible for keeping the town’s records, which allows him to maintain a high level of knowledge about the history and customs of the community.|
In conclusion, Mr. Graves plays a crucial role in symbolizing the power held by the town’s leadership in “The Lottery.” From his position as assistant to the chief official to his responsibilities during the stoning scene, Mr. Graves represents the authority that controls the fate of the community and highlights the dangers of blindly following tradition.
Subtle Clues to Mr. Graves’ Significance
Mr. Graves, like many other characters in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” is more than what he seems. His significance is revealed through subtle clues that hint at his role in the events of the story. Here, we explore the clues that allude to Mr. Graves’ involvement in the lottery and what he symbolizes.
The Number 7
In “The Lottery,” the number 7 is mentioned several times and is linked to Mr. Graves. Firstly, Mr. Summers is mentioned to be the “official of the lottery” while Mr. Graves is referred to as “the postmaster.” This distinction draws attention to Mr. Graves’ connection to the government and postal service, both of which are often associated with the number 7. The postal service operates on a seven-day schedule, and there are seven days in a week, making the number 7 a symbol of routine and order.
- Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves are mentioned multiple times in the seventh paragraph of the story, emphasizing their significance to the events of the lottery.
- The black box used in the lottery is described as being made “some time in the seventies,” further linking the number 7 to the lottery and its participants.
- The lottery is held on the 27th of June, another reference to the number 7.
|Mr. Summers is referred to as the “official of the lottery,” while Mr. Graves is the “postmaster.”||Draws attention to Mr. Graves’ connection to routine and order.|
|References to Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves are made multiple times in the seventh paragraph of the story.||Emphasizes their significance to the events of the story.|
|The black box used in the lottery is made “some time in the seventies.”||Links the number 7 to the lottery and its participants.|
|The lottery is held on the 27th of June.||Another reference to the number 7 and its connection to the events of the story.|
Overall, the prevalence of the number 7 in “The Lottery” suggests that the events and characters are governed by routine and tradition. Mr. Graves’ association with the number 7 and the postal service underscores his role in upholding the system that validates the lottery as a necessary practice.
Mr. Graves as a Reflection of Society
Mr. Graves, the assistant to the lottery conductor in the short story “The Lottery,” symbolizes different aspects of society. One of these aspects is represented by the number 8, which is closely associated with Mr. Graves.
In the story, Mr. Graves is responsible for managing the slips of paper that contain the names of each family in the village. He also assists in distributing the wooden chips that determine which household will be chosen as the winner of the lottery. The number of chips in the box, as well as the number of slips of paper, is significant. There are 300 slips of paper, which is the exact number of people in the village. There are also 300 chips, but one is marked with a black dot, which designates the “winner” of the lottery.
However, there is an additional chip that stands out, and that is the eighth chip. It is mentioned that Mr. Graves is the only person who knows what the eighth chip is. Furthermore, it is implied that the chip has some significance, but the reader is left to wonder what that significance is.
- The number 8 may symbolize the power dynamic in the village, as Mr. Graves is the assistant to the lottery conductor and holds a position of authority.
- The eighth chip could represent a sense of control or manipulation over the villagers, as Mr. Graves is the only one who knows what it means.
- The number 8 could also represent the idea of sacrifice, as it is a number often associated with death and funeral rites.
To further explore the symbolism of the number 8 in “The Lottery,” a table can be used to analyze its significance:
|Symbol||Meaning||Relation to Mr. Graves|
|The number 8||Power, control, death||Mr. Graves holds authority and controls the fate of the villagers through the lottery. The eighth chip is unknown and could signify death.|
Overall, Mr. Graves represents certain aspects of society, and the number 8 is one of the symbols used to convey this idea. Through his position in the lottery, Mr. Graves holds power and control over the villagers, and the number 8 could signify the sacrifice that they make in order to maintain the status quo.
Mr. Graves and the Importance of Ritual
As a character in “The Lottery,” Mr. Graves represents authority and tradition. He is responsible for assisting the lottery’s leader, Mr. Summers, with the execution of the ritual. Mr. Graves is often seen as the enforcer of the community’s rules and regulations. In this section, we will explore the significance of the number 9 in the story and its relationship to the meaning of the ritual.
- The number 9 is crucial in the story as it represents the number of times the lottery has been conducted. The fact that the ritual has been consistently carried out for so long reinforces the idea of tradition and the community’s commitment to it.
- The number 9 also symbolizes the end of a cycle, as it is the last single-digit number. The end of the cycle can be seen as representing the end of life, which is ultimately what the lottery leads to.
- Furthermore, the association with death is further emphasized by the fact that the lottery takes place on the 27th of June, which is six months after December 27th, the winter solstice. In many cultures, the winter solstice represents rebirth, while the summer solstice represents death or the end of life.
The recurring nature of the lottery and the number 9 highlights the importance of ritual in the community. The town’s dependence on it suggests that the ritual has become an integral part of their belief system. It has become something that the townspeople must pass on to future generations to maintain the community’s coherence.
The table below shows the appearance of the number 9 in the story, emphasizing its recurring and significant presence:
|Occurrences of 9||Page Number|
|The lottery has been conducted for 77 years (7+7=14; 1+4=5; 9-5=4)||1|
|The Watsons had 5 family members participate in the lottery (9-5=4)||4|
|The lottery is conducted in the town square, which is located between the post office and the bank (90-degree angle – 9)||5|
|It takes 6 people to draw from the box for the lottery (6+3=9)||6|
|Tessie won the first round of the lottery with a slip of paper marked with a black dot (9 letters in black dot)||7|
|The townspeople proceed to select stones from a pile that had been made the night before (9 syllables in the description of the stones)||8|
|The Hutchinson family has 2 young children, making them a total of 5 family members participating in the lottery (9-5=4)||11|
|Mr. Graves puts 5 slips of paper back into the box (9-5=4)||12|
|Tessie is stoned to death by the townspeople, and the story ends (9th paragraph in the story)||14|
The recurrence of the number 9 in “The Lottery” is not a coincidence. It emphasizes the idea that the community is bound by tradition and ritual, and that they must continue to carry out the lottery to maintain order and coherence. Mr. Graves represents this consistency and authority, and his role in the execution of the ritual reinforces the community’s commitment to its traditions.
The Implications of the Absence of Mr. Graves in the Lottery
Mr. Graves is a key character in Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery. He is the assistant to the town’s leader, Mr. Summers, and helps carry out the drawing of lots. Mr. Graves also prepares the slips of paper with the villagers’ names on them. The absence of Mr. Graves in the lottery is significant and has several implications on the story.
- The lack of authority figure – Mr. Graves is the only other person in the story who holds any significant power, aside from Mr. Summers. Without him, there is no one to uphold the integrity of the lottery drawing, which leads to chaos and violence.
- The loss of ritual – Mr. Graves is responsible for the actual drawing of the lots, which is a crucial part of the ritual. His absence creates confusion among the villagers on how to carry out the procedure, emphasizing the importance of roles in traditions.
- The townspeople’s indifference – When Mr. Graves does not show up at the start of the story, the villagers do not seem to be concerned. It shows how the lottery has become just another mundane part of their lives, and they have become desensitized to the horror that it represents.
The absence of Mr. Graves is particularly notable towards the end of the story when the actual drawing takes place. People were looking around, confused, and hesitant to proceed without Mr. Graves’ guidance. This sends a message that the human mind is so conditioned to follow norms that they have found solace in keeping one person to be responsible for the work to be done.
In conclusion, the absence of Mr. Graves in the lottery highlights several significant points of the story. It emphasizes the importance of roles in traditions and the significance of authority figures. The lack of these factors creates chaos and disorder, which ultimately lead to the violence depicted in the story.
|Symbolizes the power of authority and the role of hierarchy in society.||Represents the realist elements of society such as leadership, governance, and order.||Emphasizes the importance of customs and traditions and the role they play in building a communal identity.|
The absence of Mr. Graves in the lottery shows how disorder can quickly unravel the functioning of traditional values in society. It highlights the importance of holding onto traditions while staying vigilant on evolving them into finer versions.
Thanks for Reading!
So there you have it – Mr. Graves in “The Lottery” is more than just a simple character. He’s a symbol of the darker, more sinister side of human nature that can overshadow even the most mundane of activities. Whether you’re studying this story for school or just reading for fun, I hope this article has given you a deeper understanding of the power of symbols in literature. And if you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check back for more insights and analyses of your favorite books and stories. Happy reading!