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"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, Analysis

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by

Kethy Wang

on 26 September 2012

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Transcript of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, Analysis

by Shirley Jackson
In this quote, the imagery sets a clear sunny morning of June 27th where the villagers had to gather at the town square for this particular day. As the story progresses, this casts irony due to a custom that lies behind the story which seems barbaric to the world we live in. Jackson indicates the town’s annual lottery with a specific time and date, which immediately implies the importance of that day. Whereas “The Lottery” already misleads the reader into believing it’s a story where a prize or winner is expected because the quote supports the innocence and joyfulness in which “...the reader [later] learns of the winner’s fate: Death, by friends and family, ” stated by Lori Voth, a freelance writer on Yahoo!. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th, but in this village, two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.” (paragraph 1) The significance of this dialogue between Mr. Summers and Mrs. Dunbar is an example of where woman stands in their society. As the female villagers enter the town square “wearing faded dresses and sweaters, [and walking] after their men folk” (paragraph 3 line 4 to 5) indicates the fact that woman do work and are expected to. However, women are not considered as money-makers since they don’t contribute to the economy. On the other hand, the village is a stereotypical world where men held authority and power. For example, Mr. Summers is an official that had the right to question Mrs. Dunbar in such manner whilst she answered “regretfully” about her son, Horace (paragraph 10 line 7). The sense that “grown boy[s]” have a higher rank than their mothers (paragraph 10 line 2) display the hierarchy and inequality woman obtained. “ ‘Me I guess,’ a woman said, and Mr. Summers turned to look at her. ‘Wife draws for her husband,’ Mr. Summers said. ‘Don’t you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?’ Although Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally. Mr. Summers waited with an expression of polite interest while Mrs. Dunbar answered. ‘Horace’s not but sixteen yet,’ Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. ‘Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year.’ ” (paragraph 10) This quote demonstrates “the lottery” as some sort of ritual held every year in the village based on their custom and tradition that has been passed down from generations. Old Man Warner describes the lottery as a motivation for the villagers to continue work after this unusual custom. Since he’s the oldest man in the village that has attended seventy seven times, he’s not willing to stop the lottery nor will the villagers disobey him. For example, Old Man Warner emphasizes the fact that “there’s always been a lottery” (paragraph 27 line 5) which indicates the norm for annual human sacrifices. Whereas, these customs are a way of pleasing the God(s) in order to have good harvest. “ Old Man Warner snorted. ‘Pack of crazy fools,’ he said. ‘Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while. Used to be saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There’s always been a lottery,’ he added petulantly.” (paragraph 27) Thank You Analysis of
"The Lottery"
The last sections of “The Lottery” establishes a powerful sense of inhumanity that these villagers possessed. Tessie Hutchinson, a mother of two married daughters ended up with a black spot on her paper. She claims that it was unfair whilst her family and friends stone her to death because it’s part of their ritual and tradition. Although Tessie was stoned, she showed great strength due to her rebellious act that was shown unconsciously by crying, “it isn’t fair” (paragraph 73). However, the villagers including Tessie’s husband were aware of this account and took pleasure in killing her. Therefore, this demonstrates that the idea of a custom or tradition have more influence and power over the innocent. “Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. ‘It isn’t fair,’ she said. A stone hit her on the side of her head. Old Man Warner was saying, ‘Come on, come on, everyone.’ Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him. ‘It ain’t fair, it isn’t right,’ Mrs Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.”(paragraph 71 to 73)
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