English 1302 - Composition & Rhetoric
Prose Assignment #7

Reading Assignment
  • Literature: an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, Ch. 7, "Symbol", pp. 229-259
  • "The Lottery" (Text on the Web)
  • "The Chrysanthemums" (Text on the Web)

  • Writing Assignment
    Write an essay in which you discuss the symbols you observed in "The Chrysanthemums" and/or "The Lottery". How did the author's use of these symbols affect the story and the reader? Include details from the story to support your claim that certain objects seem to be symbolic.
    Remember to include a topic sentence for each body paragraph and examples from the story to support your points. Remember to correctly use quotation marks and parenthetical citations for each quote that you use from the text. Finally, write a short concluding paragraph for your essay.
    See pages 483-491 in The Little, Brown Handbook, Brief Version for information concerning parenthetical citation.
    Draft a "Works Cited" page according to the MLA guidelines found on pages 491-521 in The Little, Brown Handbook, Brief Version, and on the "MLA Works Cited Formatting Page". For this assignment you only need to include the bibliographical information for your primary source.

    I will be checking your essay to see that you have included an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement; at least three fully developed body paragraphs which include topic sentences, properly cited quotations, and discussion of your examples from the story; a concluding paragraph that neatly wraps up your essay; and a properly formatted Works Cited page containing a correct listing for your primary source. Also, be sure to check the final draft of your essay for grammar/mechanics and formatting errors prior to submitting it for evaluation. See pages 526 - 530 in The Little, Brown Handbook, Brief Version and the "MLA Document Formatting Page" for information on proper formatting.
    Give your essay an original title. Process the essay using Microsoft Word. Save the file as yourlastnameA7.doc, and follow the instructions under "Submit Assignment" at the bottom of this page. NOTE: essays must be submitted via the correct WebCT assignment page. Essays submitted any other way will not be received or graded.
    * If you do not have Microsoft Word and must use another program, save your paper as an .rtf file before submitting it. See the "MLA Document Formatting Page" for more information.
    Visit A Basic Essay Guide to refresh your essay writing skills.

    Internet Resources:
    Symbolism Dictionary
    The Scapegoat in "The Lottery"

    "The Chrysanthemums"

    • woman trapped in a man's domain
    • has strength (Paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 8--pp. 246-247)
    • does not have much romance in her life--i.e., Henry's compliment, Paragraph 103, p. 252


    • chrysanthemums--predominant symbol--suggest Elisa's ability to produce/her fertility/her strength
    • fog--closes off Salinas Valley and Elisa like a "lid" on a "closed pot" (Paragraph 1, p.246)
    • wire fence--protects Elisa from a more fulfilling role/opportunities to use her strengths/talents (Paragraph 9, p. 247)
    • traveling repairman--symbolizes the wider world/opportunities outside Elisa's imprisoning "wire fence"

    "The Lottery"

    Rules of the Lottery:

    1. head of family draws a piece of paper out of the black box
    2. one head of family will find a black circle on the paper
    3. then, each member of that family has to participate in a second drawing
    4. family member who draws paper with black circle is stoned to death by fellow villagers and even his/her own family

    The stoning to death of a villager (sacrifice) represents a throw back to an ancient fertility ritual--see Paragraph 32, p. 258.

    "The Lottery" raises the question: "Are we slaves to tradition even though the tradition has outlived its usefulness?"

    Terms For Review
    Symbol Allegory Symbolic Act