Shirley Jackson effectively uses setting in "The Lottery" to foreshadow an ironic ending. In many stories, settings are constructed to help build the mood and to foreshadow of things to come. The story sets up the reader to expect good things from the lottery. However, the description of the setting foreshadows exactly the opposite of what the reader expects. Shirley Jackson develops this through a description of the physical setting, a general description of the residents, and subtle hints throughout the story.
The story begins with the establishment of the setting. To begin, Shirley Jackson tells the reader what time of day and what time of year the story takes place. This is important to get the reader to focus on what a typical day it is in this small town. The setting set forth by Shirley Jackson in the beginning of the story creates a mood of peacefulness and tranquility. It also creates a visual image in the mind of the reader of a typical town on a normal summer day. Shirley Jackson tells you that school has just been let out so you know that it is early summer. The setting of the town is described like any normal village. Shirley Jackson also stresses on the beauty of the day and the brilliance of nature. She describes the grass as "richly green" and that "the flowers were blooming profusely." These descriptions of the surroundings give the reader a serene feeling about the town and provide a feeling of good things to come and let the reader relax into what seems to be a comfortable setting for the story. These descriptions make the reader get the idea that there is a perfectly normal town. .
Shirley Jackson successfully creates a comfortable atmosphere while describing the residents of the town. She starts describing them as everyone begins gathering in the town square. She describes the children gathering together and breaking into "boisterous play." When the children are described to the reader, she also mentions that they are gathering rocks.