The Lottery is a short story written by Shirley Jackson, published in The New Yorker magazine on June 27, 1948. The protagonist is an educated man living near the fictional town of “Jackson”, New York yet unnamed throughout the story. The story starts with a description of a local annual tradition known as “The Lottery”. The lottery is depicted as a normative if the somewhat barbaric event in which townspeople gather to select participants by placing their folded slips of paper into The Box. The protagonist only has one slip, knowing that his old age would not grant him a long life if he were chosen.
He notes the family across the field who are very cheerful for being selected last year. The annual event is also seen as a coming-of-age ritual for children when they turn twelve years old, where they are given one slip to place in The Box with hopes of winning “The Prize”, though it is never explicitly stated what this prize is. The protagonist’s wife asks him how many times he has attended The Lottery over the years and he disregards question in favor of watching little Davy Hutchinson win The Prize of a living baby pig.
The suspense of The Lottery begins to build as the protagonist’s wife gets more upset over his lack of answer and looks around nervous for any sign that he is being watched. The tradition requires all townspeople to attend, and those who refuse may be stoned or otherwise punished upon discovery. This fact adds tension to the story as the reader slowly realizes that The Box must be something quite sinister and it is now approximately forty-eight hours until The Lottery.
The lottery itself finishes without much excitement as the protagonist watches his slip drawn by Mr. Summers, who is also in charge of The Box and reading names throughout The Lottery. His slip proves him safe from The drawing as his family gathers around him. The story climaxes when his wife and sister-in-law find out that he did not place a slip in The Box and shove The Box in his hands with the order, “Draw! ” The protagonist refuses to draw a slip from The Box in front of them (“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right”) and they beat him off screen.
The final line is spoken by an unnamed townsperson: “Come on,” she said. “Let’s go home. ” The Lottery has been hailed as one of the 20th century’s most masterful short stories. It was included in many high school literature textbooks throughout the United States for several years after its publication. In 1996, it was honored by The New York Times as one of the best works of 20th-century American fiction. The story is frequently included on lists of the greatest American short stories and novellas.
Shirley Jackson the author of many fictional stories precisely The Lottery uses the story to explain the sadistic tradition of people in a particular town that can symbolize how some traditions whether universal or personal are not always positive and how it is up to the individual to make a stand and change the outcome. The story shows how humans have a natural attraction for violence, but when the violence is placed on one, in particular, their personal views change from that of a certain nonchalant attitude to that of a more fearful attitude and the person is more pruned to blame others.
The tradition of The Lottery is almost like the tradition of Christmas, but instead of celebrating with family and friends The Lottery focuses on violence. The story starts off by describing how it is June and time for The Lottery to take place. The reader is introduced to The Stocks, The Mortons, The Dunbars, Mr. Summers who has been chosen as this year’s Head of the lottery. It is also noted how most people are not happy about The Lottery but they do not voice their opinion out loud because they fear that voicing their opinion would be seen as an offense to the townspeople.
Then there are those few people in town that attend The lottery each year with no problem at all stating “It’s only a game” The crowd is described as normal looking, well dressed people who are there not for the tradition but to watch The Lottery take place. The townspeople begin to chat among themselves about their lives and other random topics before The lottery begins. The reader notices that The concepts of The Lottery are spoken about in a very simplistic manner without much emotion or thought behind it. An example would be when the children ask if they will have to play The lottery next year.
Mr. Summers responds “If you don’t want to, I wouldn’t blame you. ” Then he goes on say how it isn’t so bad because The winner only gets stoned until death. The women seem very calm and collected during all this talk about The Lottery because The Lottery has been going on for years. The reader does not know if The women are unaware of The outcome of The lottery or they are simply desensitized to the violence. The story was very well written by Shirley Jackson because it allows the reader to make his or her own interpretation of The lottery and The townspeople’s actions.
The story leaves out any stereotypical telling points that some fictional stories have, but instead The Lottery gives the reader just enough information allowing them to connect with each character through their more personal thoughts and emotions. The fact that The Lottery is told in third person gives the reader a clear view of what is taking place throughout The whole story. Although The Lottery may be fiction The story is able to reflect the true feelings of The reader on The subject of The Lottery.
The main theme of The Lottery is about violence and how desensitized some people are. The lottery may only take place every year, but The ideas of human violence can be reflected in many forms throughout history through both fiction and non-fiction. Shirley Jackson’s ability to write The Lottery with just enough information allows the reader to establish their own connections within The story allowing them to understand more than just The mechanics of The lottery, but how it effects everyone involved even if they aren’t playing.
Writing a research paper can be difficult if you want to add your own personal thoughts and opinions, but stay true to the information that is given. The point I would like to make when writing this research paper would be that violence changes from person to person. Violence may not change from culture to culture, but The way we experience and interpret violence does because it occurs within our minds and how we perceive things. Our lives are made up of many different experiences and sometimes we forget where one experience begins and another ends because they tend to merge together over time.