The Shape of Stories

I like Vonnegut’s method because it shows very clearly the happenings of a story. It demonstrates the depth of a story and what happens in it. I decided to apply Vonnegut’s method to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and came up with:

Chart

As you can see the story starts out pretty good. Everyone in town is gathering and conversing as if nothing bad is going to happen. Even the children are enjoying themselves while collecting stones. This is why I decided to start the line in the good-fortune section. Then the lottery begins and the tension sets in amongst the crowd. This sends the line into the ill-fortune section of the graph because deep down, everyone in the gathering is feeling bad about what is about to happen. However, the line quickly jumps up into the good-fortune section when Tessie Hutchinson enters the crowd. The mood among the entire crowd is lightened because Tessie brings a pleasant atmosphere to the people gathered together. The line then settles back down into the ill-fortune section and just keeps going down from there, as the Hutchinson family gets picked and then Tessie herself gets chosen to be stoned to death.

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