Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery"

Categories: Shirley Jackson

In Shirley Jackson's narrative, "The Lottery", the primary theme is how customs lose their meaning due to human lapse of memory. This can trigger terrible effects to take place.

The story is embeded in a village, 'on the morning of June 27th'. It opens with incorrect innocence, using children, fooling the reader into an uninformed state. The reader practically expects the Lottery to be something fantastic since the "typical" lottery has the winner getting a reward of a big quantity of cash or belongings.

Even the story points to the innocence, describing how Mr. Summers likewise holds 'square dances, teenage club and the Halloween program' in the same spot that the lotto is held.

In "the Lotto" we discover in the end, the town-folk use the lotto to select a "winner" to stone to death. The winner is selected utilizing a black box that has been around for ages. Within the box are slips of paper, enough for the entire town.

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On one slip of paper is a black dot for the one lucky winner. The black dot on the slip of paper recognizes the fortunate winner of the lottery; the individual who will get stoned by their neighbors. No one in town truly knows exactly why it is a custom although some have some unclear concepts.

Old Male Warner points that it was when stated "lottery in June, corn be heavy soon". Paradoxically, even the earliest member of this village doesn't even remember the real reason behind the lottery. Possibly the villagers once drew names from this black box.

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When their name was drawn, the villager confessed his/her sins and was punished by having actually rocks tossed at them. As times altered, 'The Lottery game' was executed.

On the eighth paragraph of 'The Lotto', the character Tessie Hutchinson, comes hurrying to the square because she 'clean forgot what day it was'. This shows how easily people can forget things. It likewise points to something horrible when Tessie exclaims 'would not have me leave m'dishes in the sink' to her other half. Tessie appears to not take 'The Lottery' seriously, potentially due to the fact that of the amount of people in the village or the truth she has actually been desensitized to the violent routine. It can be assumed that Tessie does not understand quite about the history of the tradition since the other townspeople do not keep in mind the history either.

Mr. Summers, the official of the lottery, was supposed to perform a 'perfunctory tuneless chant.' He was supposed to sing a 'ritual salute' when addressing each person who came up to the black box during the lottery. The villagers, who remember some bits of history about those forgotten aspects of the ritual, aren't even definite about the accuracy of their beliefs. Some believe that the 'official of the lottery should stand' a certain way when he sang the chant, other believe that he should 'walk among the people'. No one exactly remembers how the tradition the tradition should be performed. This is why a lot of formality had been allowed to lapse. Because the adults have forgotten the traditions history, the children know even less and they are desensitized to murderous ritual.

The townspeople could have changed the tradition or even investigated the history of the tradition. The townspeople had an active role in the stoning of Tessie. They cannot blame their actions on forgetfulness but rather on hypocrisy. When Mrs. Delacroix was selecting a 'stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands', she could have stopped and questioned the ethics of 'The Lottery'.

Forgotten traditions can be extremely dangerous as Shirley Jackson points out in her short story. Any one of us can forget something important about a tradition that could eventually lead to dreadful consequences.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery". (2016, Jun 20). Retrieved from

Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" essay
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